This semester, Simmons sports teams are trying to stay connected while apart.
Using strategies like Zoom check-ins, live workouts and the occasional in-person meeting, Sharks across the board are working hard to create and maintain the types of bonds that usually grow during a season of competing alongside one another.
Being apart has its challenges though, and some athletes are feeling the distance from their teammates.
Kaili Shorey, a junior on the tennis team, said her existing tennis friendships remain strong, but she has not yet gotten to know the first years on the team.
Samantha Kelsey, a senior and captain of the crew team who is currently living at home in Utah, noted that the team dynamic can feel “less natural,” as some rowers are taking time off to focus on school.
Not all teams are feeling disconnected, however. According to junior field hockey player Sofia Gulick, this is the closest she’s ever felt to her team.
Gulick, a Vermonter and staff writer on the Simmons Voice, credits the team’s closeness to their “Facetime Fridays” and pairing up older members with newer ones to get to know each other.
First-year field hockey player Mia Suchy echoed this, saying these efforts to create community makes her, “more excited and more grateful for the opportunity to play.”
The remote semester poses a unique challenge to first-years like Suchy, who are also trying to navigate virtual athletics, and are joining varsity sports teams via Zoom this fall. In order to integrate the new players, the Simmons Athletics Department is holding weekly practices and events.
According to Mo Grant, a first-year on the soccer team, players are expected to complete weightlifting workouts on their own time three days a week, in addition to synchronous Thursday morning runs.
“This is the least busy I’ve been in my whole life,” said Grant, a Westbrook, Maine native, when asked if her practice schedule affected her schoolwork.
Every team is trying to get through the online semester, but right now, there are varying levels of confidence over what spring 2021 will look like. According to Shorey, social distancing is easy in tennis. Gulick anticipates the field hockey team needing to wear a mask and face shield, which was the original plan for an in-person 2020 fall season.
Kelsey says that getting back out on the water is more complicated. The crew team usually goes out in boats of eight rowers, but regulations currently limit rowers to single person boats or two person boats with someone you have been quarantining with, explained Kelsey.
Regardless of the outcome of the spring semester, Sharks have risen to the challenge of creating community in the face of COVID-19 and remote learning, and are looking forward to the next time they can compete.