The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

UMW athletes adapt to suspended competition

3 min read
picture of runners

XC team competing in a meet. Pictured (left to right): Ashley Applegate, Cameron Delean, Helen Dhue, Amber Zipfel, Caroline Joyce | UMW Athletics

By: Grace Montes

UMW Athletics has postponed competition for fall sports in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. With this hiatus in place, teams cannot meet in large groups for practices, training, or games. Instead, they all communicate together via Zoom, and meet in smaller groups for activity. 

While teams cannot physically meet all at once, coaches are focusing on keeping communication and opportunities open among their athletes in a safe manner. 

“Right now we are keeping the team engaged through Zoom sessions, Title IX training, equity, diversity and inclusion education, leadership development and tactical review as well as any potential competitions that may arise as long as they are in compliance with university policy,” said track and cross country coach Kunle Lawson

Lawson said that team participation requirements have been adapted to ensure safety.

“Our first order of business is making sure that our student-athletes are healthy and feel safe,” said Lawson.  “As a result, all athletic-related activity during the fall semester is voluntary, and will not have an impact on each team member’s standing, whether he or she chooses to participate or not.”

While everyone is encouraged to keep their distance from others to ensure safety, some student athletes may not have the proper equipment or facility to train while sports are not in session. Coach Lawson has given his student athletes training plans that are considerate of these circumstances. 

“Training plans recognize traditional transition and acclimatization considerations, and afford student-athletes the time to properly progress through the physiological and environmental stresses placed upon them as they return to activity,” said Lawson. “Training plans are made considering relevant industry resource materials as well as access to any training aids they may or may not have.”

While some athletes can practice in smaller groups, they have also created their own methods for training on their own. 

Amber Zipfel, a junior on the cross country team, shared the training routine she has established during the pandemic. 

“In terms of training and staying in shape, I have tried to incorporate a load of different activities that range from bike rides, strength training with the ‘equipment’ I have available, going on walks, completing core everyday, taking a few yoga classes with UMW Campus Rec, and running every other day,” said Zipfel. “I am trying to get out of the house every day, because being stuck in front of the computer is quite draining. Also, I do not want to get burned out from overtraining, because I want to be fresh when my season rolls around.”

Members of the cross country and track teams have also shared their thoughts on the current hiatus and the possibility of a return for the spring season. 

“I guess I am pretty supportive of us not going back for competitions. I think that as much as we all want things to go back to normal, it really is for the best.” said sophomore Helen Dhue. “I understand why some athletes are upset, but this is an unusual time and pretty much everyone has had to sacrifice something during this pandemic. I am just excited to at least have a small group of people to run with, since I have been running on my own since March.”

“The biggest disappointment is that I won’t get another season with my teammates and coaches. We hope we will still have a spring or outdoor track season, but it is out of our hands and we have to be at peace with that. Stressing about [it] won’t help in any way,” said senior athlete Miles Spence. “It is really depressing to not have a season, especially because it is my senior year.”

While the future direction of the virus and UMW health guidelines is unknown, the athletic department is prepared to adapt to any requirements in hopes to make a comeback for the spring season, while ensuring the safety of their student athletes and faculty. 

Patrick Catullo, director of Athletics, discussed the possibility of athletics resuming for the spring season. 

“Moving towards the spring, we will continue to take our lead from the NCAA regarding recommendations and mandates when developing protocols that mitigate risk for our student-athletes, staff, coaches, campus and local communities. As additional information becomes available, we are continuing to update our departmental plans.” 

In the meantime, athletes will continue to train individually or in smaller groups as they await a decision.