BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Athletes across the globe are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. All they want to do is step onto that field or court and play the sport they love. However, many athletes are not letting the quarantine stop them from training.
Most complete drills on their own or with siblings in order to stay active and keep working. Chelsea Kiesewetter, Columbia Middle School eighth grade softball player, is just one of those student athletes being deprived of her season. What Kiesewetter does to stay active and training, is likely similar to several other softball or baseball players at this time.
“I hit off the tee and play catch with my sister in my backyard every day along with doing a lot of ab workouts and full body workouts based off of YouTube videos. I am getting stronger and more in shape during this time off.”
There are two types of athletes during this quarantine. One lacks motivation at a time because it may just be easier to stay inside and do nothing since there is no coach telling them what to do, or teammates cheering them on. The other will use this time to become stronger as an individual.
“It’s not hard to stay motivated since I have nothing else to do, and before this I would practice every day, so it is just my routine.”
Michael Labisi, sophomore baseball player at Governor Livingston, chooses to stay active and train during this quarantine.
“I hit off the tee, throw in my backyard, I go on daily runs, and I am also doing daily core workouts during my gym class to try to stay fit.”
Seniors who are not continuing to play a sport in college, are getting hit the hardest with what seems to be the inevitable cancellation of their season. Most are sad about not being able to play the last game of their high school careers.
Erica Kullback, a senior softball player, said, “This final season was supposed to be my best. It kills me that it might not happen at all. I guess this is why you should play every game like it's your last.”
One thing these athletes can agree on, no matter what sport they play or what their age is, they are missing out on the sport they train so hard for year round.
“My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to see people from my team and interact, and that would cause us to not work well together when we play next, ” Kiesewetter said.
Labisi said, “I really miss playing because baseball is my primary sport, and I was looking forward to playing this season, I hope that the whole season doesn't get canceled and some of it will be salvaged.”
This period of remote schooling is not only tearing apart the athletes, but also the coaches. They plan out their rosters and make practice plans, but having that all go by the wayside is tough.
Chris Roof, Governor Livingston Varsity Baseball coach, has set expectations for his players during the quarantine to stay prepared if the season were to continue.
“I set up a baseball Google Classroom with our pitching coach, Coach Rago. I’ve attached various hitting and fielding videos and Coach Rago has added pitching material for our pitchers to follow. Bottom line is that my guys have to do their workouts individually and not with a teammate. So Dad/Mom/brother/sister have to help if they need somebody to do flips, throw BP or roll/hit ground balls.”
However, it is not just the physical aspect that is taking a toll on the coaches and players. It is also the emotional toll of losing time away from something that they put so much effort into.
Roof said, “It’s very sad about not playing, but our main focus should be on all of us social distancing and caring for all family members.”
Erin Lanigan, Governor Livingston Varsity Softball coach, intends to keep her team as positive and connected as possible and try to not let this time break anything the softball team had going before this pandemic.
“Through our team's Google Classroom, we have found a way to keep all the girls "together". By posting daily drills that can be done at home, along with weekly workouts, and of course some motivational quotes, my goal is to just continue giving you guys hope that we will get out there on the field this season.”
Clearly there is not much that these coaches can do during this time except hope that it ends soon, and prepare for the possibility of a continuing season.
“This situation is definitely an unexpected and frustrating one. As coaches, we like to be prepared for all scenarios, but I don't think any of us expected to be coaching during a pandemic in 2020. It's difficult and it's unfair to all the athletes that play spring sports right now,” Lanigan said.
During the pandemic, players and coaches have taken a hard hit. All they can do is prepare and train because no one knows when the season will pick up again.