Athletes cope through a year without play

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A year has passed since the start of the pandemic forced the Mustangs to cease all competition, and athletes have found themselves going down an unusual path toward their goals in athletics and education.

Delta College’s student-athletes have encountered a range of obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic and try to find ways to cope with its effects.

Mustangs women’s basketball players Alicia Jones and Matesn McMiller admit managing themselves during the pandemic is not an easy task, but said they’ve been able to keep their mental health intact.

Jones finds it challenging to keep up with her school work online.

“There are times where it’s stressful. They add a lot of homework online for me to do. Mentally I’m still doing good though,” said Jones.

McMiller tries not to think about COVID-19 altogether.

“Overall I’ve been pretty OK. I’ve just tried finding ways to adjust to the situation and not let it get to me,” said McMiller. 

Delta’s student-athletes have faced a variety of challenges, from adjusting to remote conditioning  and online learning to dealing with the emotional impacts of the global health crisis.

Remote training has posed a challenge for the athletes to stay motivated, mostly due to the fact they can’t practice alongside their teammates and interact with them up close.

Virtual communication is hard for Jones and misses interacting with the rest of her teammates on the court.

“It’s hard to connect with your teammates when you’re not in person. Sometimes it’s boring, our coaches have to find ways to keep us motivated and interact with each other,” said Jones.

McMiller finds online interaction insufficient when it comes to socializing with the rest of the team.

“Having to do workouts over Zoom has been a hard time. There’s not enough social communication for me,” said McMiller.

Some athletes have needed to search for locations to even do their training.

Mustangs track and field distance runner Justin Sherman resorted to searching for spots where he can go running.

“My life has changed a lot recently, even with the way I do my workouts,” said Sherman. “I’ve had to transition to mostly finding my own places to run.”

To cope with the impact of the pandemic, student-athletes are staying in contact with the people closest to them while also engaging in various activities at home during the lockdown.

Mustangs track and field thrower Alexis Pagala said she is following suggestions from her family and coaches to stay occupied as a means of dealing with the impact of the pandemic.

“I’ve done a lot of self-reflection and have been reaching out to anyone I know,” said Pagala. “Most of them gave me the same message, just stay busy. I have tried to keep a schedule that allows me to stay busy and active both mentally and emotionally.” 

During the pandemic, Pagala changed her mentality to focus more on herself rather than what’s going on around her.

“I have been focusing on how to improve on any and all aspects I can,” said Pagala. “I realized it’s better to build myself up rather than validating what I cannot control.”

McMiller turns to family for coping with the pandemic.

“Being around family has helped. It’s taught me to appreciate the people around me day-to-day,” said McMiller.

Even though training remotely on Zoom isn’t something McMiller enjoys, doing workouts on her own still helps keep her mind off the health crisis.

“I tend to do workouts and listen to music. That has helped me cope with the pandemic,” said McMiller.

Some have found benefits from the pandemic and lockdowns.

Sherman has watched YouTube videos and Twitch streams to cope with the pandemic, and has even increased his interaction with other people.

“I have talked to a lot more people online that I would’ve never met before if it weren’t for the pandemic,” said Sherman. “Watching Twitch streams helps a lot because you still get that real time interaction with other people even though you may not know them.” 

During the pandemic, other athletes like Jones see the situation as a chance to try new things while stuck at home.

“I’ve tried finding hobbies outside of basketball to keep myself occupied. I’ve done sports all my life, and this is an opportunity to find myself and see what other things I like,” said Jones.