Panther Prep Work: The Secret Behind the Season


By Maxmillian Robinson



The lasting impact of Covid-19 has altered the course of collegiate play tremendously. It has caused players to practice in isolation, away from their teammates, socially distance themselves and consistently train on a daily basis, while keeping in peak shape. This is a lot to ask, even for a student athlete. Despite the challenges, many athletes continue to strive for success. Not one ounce of effort lacking on their behalf, with a winnable approach to all adversity they face. What keeps AU athletes in such a controlled mindset?

“I realized that things won't always go as planned and that it is uncontrollable,” said Sophomore women's basketball player Fiona Mannion. “It is how I respond to these unplanned circumstances that is up to me. Therefore, I try to focus on the things that I am physically and mentally able to control such as my mindset and being as best prepared for class, practices and games as possible. When life throws curveballs, I try to stay positive and learn from it.”

Due to the pandemic, this will be Mannion's first collegiate season of play and that holding onto “this kind of positive mindset” will only help her to respond during times of possible turmoil.

Over the summer, she has been on a tight basketball routine, “playing in a summer basketball league to stay physically fit, running and lifting weights,” all on her own.

To some, consistency is not a problem at all. For some athletes, they’ve been committed to the sport from a very young age, which has allowed them to win multiple awards, competing at a high level, viewing no end in sight even in the midst of an epidemic.

“I joined the track team my freshman year in high school and I have stuck with the sport since,” said 2020 female track athlete of the year, senior Gabrielle Buissereth. “I stuck with it and I would say it paid off.”

Having this level of consistency definitely requires a little daily planning from these Panther athletes. It takes a lot of time, energy and commitment to dedicate yourself to a season like this, but some have whatever it takes.

“I am Type A and do not do well without structure, so having a schedule is crucial for me to get anything done,” Buissereth said. “I plug in all my classes, team practices, weight training, appointments, social events and study time all into Google calendar so I have everything in one place. Without it, I start missing deadlines, procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed pretty quickly.”

With all this time spent trying to improve themselves in their respective sport, what other possible things could these athletes do outside of the play that helps them?

“I am not sure if it would even be considered a habit or a skill, but I love to dance,” Mannion said. “Even if I am just doing Tik Tocks with my friends and sisters, I love music and dance. Growing up I used to Irish step dance and believe it or not I think it has helped me to be a better player on the court because my ability to take quick, rhythmic steps helps me to be more creative with my post moves.”

“I love anything surrounding personal development,” Buissereth said. “A lot of what I do I think falls into that category. I have been trying to do more yoga and meditation because I want to build a stronger mindset. I love to workout to see how much farther I can push myself and I love to read and listen to podcasts because I want to open myself to different perspectives.”

As you can tell from these responses, consistency is key. There are many different things that can help a player compete better, but everyone is different. That is what makes a story even more rewarding and on top of this, creates optimism for a stellar season to come.

“I have really been looking forward to being back with my team,” said Buissereth, a nursing student. “Aside from athletics, I am looking forward to seeing how my clinical rotations go in the hospital. My hospital experience was cut short last semester so I am hoping to gain a better idea where I would eventually like to work once I graduate.”


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