Having been a college field hockey player, my heart breaks for the current field hockey players and student athletes who are now facing the hard reality that their seasons are cancelled. In my college years, if anyone ever asked me what I would be doing in the month of August, it would go something like this:
- Running fitness tests
- Practicing for 4-5 hours per day
- Going to video meetings
- Eating in the dining hall with fellow athletes
- Moving into my dorm room
- Spending a lot of time in the training room and the ice bath
If you asked any fall student athlete back in January of 2020, “What will you be doing in August” I am sure it would be similar to what I just wrote. However, now in August of 2020, some student athletes are not even allowed in their team locker rooms, meetings are still on zoom, practice sessions are smaller, fitness tests are pushed off, there are no more games, and some of their teammates might not even be on campus.
What student athletes thought it would be versus what it actually is creates a vulnerable, challenging space. The question arises; “Well now what?” for many coaches, athletes, administrators, athletic departments, etc.
Now what? Now, you create the best structure that you can for yourself as a student athlete. You figure out a different way to achieve your GOALS! Nothing will be exactly the same, but things can be similar. Can’t run your fitness test with your coaches and entire team there? Figure out a way to get a few teammates into groups and time your own fitness tests. Can’t practice for the normal 4-5 hours a day? Break into small groups or just get yourself out on the field working for 1-2 hours per day. Yes, meetings can’t be in person, but technology has given us the resources to still meet “face to face”. Want to become a better athlete? Video sessions are great resources. Be a student of the game. Watch other players who are better than you and learn from them, watch yourself and see what you can improve upon. Get teammates together and pair up, critique one another, give each other praise. Ask questions: what is allowed, what is not? Can you scrimmage each other on the days you would have played games?
There is always a way, you just have to find it! Coming together as a team and finding your support system will be one of the most crucial aspects of this time period. This time can be looked at as an opportunity that you would have never had before if everything was “normal”. You can work on your technical and tactical skills, you can watch video, focus on your fitness, and take time for self-reflection. There is a lot more in your control than you actually think there is.
This time is yours for the taking, it is up to YOU to take it. Just think about how much you can develop as a player and as a person. Visualize how you want to be in your first competition again whenever that may be.
I don’t want to take away from the heart-wrenching and deafening silence that this pandemic has put onto student athletes. But, you are an athlete, you know you are not defined by how you fall, but by how you RISE! You have faced adversity before. You have learned how to take negatives and change them into positives. You have failed and made mistakes thousands of times. Take this time, use it as an opportunity to grow. You GET to have another year of development. That is something special.
Since when did you let the outside world and outside circumstances affect your work ethic, your fight, your drive, your GOALS? Sometimes goals take longer to get to, but you can adjust and find a way to achieve them. And who knows, maybe even learn something even more important along this new path… how truly strong and resilient you are.
Don’t give into the ‘normal’ – Similar can be FUN!