Student-athletes deal with COVID-19 as they return to competitive sports

By Michael Yu, Sept. 14, 2021

While many CPP students have had to adapt to the resumption of in-person activity on campus, student-athletes have been especially affected by the transition. In order to maintain public health and still play sports competitively during the pandemic, many have had to change the way they train, play and live.

When the CPP campus closed last March, student-athletes faced many challenges from practicing under social distancing guidelines to COVID-19 testing between games.

For volleyball middle blocker Erin McFarland, the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season was a discouraging experience.

“The initial lockdown last spring was really hard to deal with,” said McFarland. “As student-athletes we build our whole lives around the sport; it’s a big part of our identity. It was hard to have that all taken away, but you adjust and keep working to come back.”

As university facilities became inaccessible, athletes had to find their own ways to engage in practice and stay in shape for the 2021-2022 season.

“I made the best of what I had and tried to be creative and find any workouts I could do,” said Benjamin Ghilarducci, shooting guard on the men’s basketball team. “I had to find ways to stay active and work on my game by myself. I mostly did weightlifting at my house, going out for runs and shooting hundreds of hoops every day.”

With the COVID-19 vaccine now widely available, CPP has partially re-opened its doors for the 2021-2022 school year, prompting sports teams on campus to resume their regular season under stricter public health and safety guidelines.

“I’ve been going and playing at parks. I’ve been playing more five vs five basketball with my friends and teammates. I also focus more on my nutrition and being as healthy as I can,” added Ghilarducci.

As a result of the re-opening, some CPP athletes like volleyball middle blocker, Kaitlin Tucker, faced difficulties managing games, practices, social life and schoolwork simultaneously.

“As a student-athlete, life is super busy. I wake up and have class in the morning, eat, go to the training room, do my treatment, practice, then weights, more treatment, then classes and homework,” said Tucker. “It can be stressful having so much on your plate. You feel spread thin with so many places to focus your energy. Time management is a huge thing as you try to balance a social life, mental health, physical health, practice time, homework and getting enough sleep.”

Student-athletes have also rebuilt their schedules since the campus reopened.

“I have class in the morning at eight, then I have to hightail it to the gym because we are in season right now and have practice every day from 12-2:30,” added McFarland. “A few days of the week, we also have weights practice, so I will go that for an hour. Then I come home and have a little bit of free time, where I catch up on day-to-day housework or do homework.”

Despite the COVID-19 preventative measures in place throughout this academic year, the threat of an outbreak looms. In order to limit the risk of players contracting the virus, CPP sports teams have urged their athletes to implement precautions in their personal lives.

“Once we were back in practice, we made a team pact to all work together to not catch it. Also, for home games, we have no spectators, and we wear masks on the sidelines.

Normally in volleyball you give high fives and say good luck to the other team, but due to the pandemic we can’t do that anymore,” shared McFarland.

CPP athletes are subject to weekly COVID-19 testing to further combat any new cases.

“When we got sent home in spring of 2020, we weren’t able to be around our coaches, use the facilities, or practice. It was really hard being away from our teams,” said Tucker. “However, I’ve grown mentally because of this ordeal and my love for the game has only gotten stronger because of the pandemic.”

To keep up to date on the fall sports season, visit the Bronco Athletics webpage.

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