Quaker sports returning to practice

Everyone is wearing masks. Hand-sanitizing stations are located in every building. This is our new “normal.”

Ever since students returned to campus this fall, uncertainty over the virus has lingered in the air. College coaches and athletes must adapt to the current situation, and improvise new ways to continue with sports under the current circumstances.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, most sports teams are just now resuming practice, while other sports, such as football, are postponed until further notice.

Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Assistant Athletics Director Stephanie Flamini shared her thoughts on how COVID-19 has impacted her team thus far.

“COVID-19 has dramatically impacted our normal routine of practicing and preparing for our season,” Flamini said.“We would normally be almost ready to scrimmage teams at this point and instead, we have been conditioning only with masks on and are only now being able to pick up a basketball on a very limited basis.”

Coaches face the challenge of adapting practices in order to adhere to these new restrictions. Athletes are required to wear a mask at all times, even while conditioning and running at practice.

“There are a lot of activities that we have to cut out of practice because of social distancing and not being allowed to have close contact,” Flamini said. “Scrimmaging, some defensive drills and being able to run the offense against a defense.”

Other teams face similar challenges. 

“I think it’s overall just really hard to play soccer with COVID guidelines,” said sophomore women’s soccer player Gracie Mayer. “It’s definitely all about finding a balance between adhering to the guidelines and keeping everyone safe, but also proactively working to get back on the field!”

“We do a lot of tactical practices now since we cannot have any physical contact,” added junior men’s soccer player Rodrigo Gudino.

Despite the uncertainty and changes caused by the pandemic, athletes and coaches have maintained a positive attitude and a strong dedication to their sport. The virus has also allowed time for team bonding.

“They (the women’s basketball team) have handled this situation like champs,” Flamini said.  “I am so proud of their attitude and work ethic through all of this. These young women never let me down. They are great people and I enjoy seeing them and being around them each day.”

“We now have almost a whole year to develop and become closer as a team,” said sophomore men’s soccer player.“…It gives us a chance to build better relationships with each other and develop strategies that we have ample amounts of time to practice which will be an advantage for us.”

Quaker sports teams have participated in Zoom meetings and other team activities to strengthen relationships while remaining safe.

“All throughout the summer the team had weekly Zoom meetings so that we could all be up to date on announcements and get to know each other better,” said first-year women’s lacrosse player Kylie Horn. “Since the school year has started we have continued the weekly Zoom meetings but have also had a few in person bonding opportunities.” 

While the virus has limited his team’s ability to play, sophomore men’s basketball player Julius Birch emphasized that the pandemic has also helped his team to grow as athletes. 

“The team’s communication and commitment has strengthened as we have to communicate more to make sure everyone is in correct groups and on time,” Birch said. “Players are also having to be more committed to doing the little things and working with what we have.”

Once Guilford has the approval to resume athletics, Women’s Tennis Coach Kim Kleimeier is most looking forward to seeing her athletes experience the joy of competing.

“There’s nothing like having that sense of team and family experience where you work your guts out in practice to then compete,” Kleinmeier said. “I want them to have that for sure.”