Playing in a pandemic

Senior+Alek+Jacobs+and+starting+quarterback+for+the+Vikings+practices+his+throws+during+drills+in+their+practice+on+Wednesday+September+10th%2C+2020+at+Thorson-Lucken+Field.+

Senior Alek Jacobs and starting quarterback for the Vikings practices his throws during drills in their practice on Wednesday September 10th, 2020 at Thorson-Lucken Field.

Margaret Cecilio

COVID-19 has uprooted the daily lives of all Augie students, and our student athletes are no exception. Last school year, the spring athletes had their seasons cut short and left campus unexpectedly in March after getting only a few matches in the books. Now that fall sports have rolled around, it is clear that there is a new standard and sense of normalcy for athletes going forward. 
Players have not lost hope that a 2020-2021 sports season will be played this school year. After months of uncertainty, teams are finally able to practice again and players are itching to get back into game action.
“We can’t wait for the spring to have the opportunity to be out there with our teammates playing the sport we all love,” said freshman football player Aidan Ellinger. Ellinger said that there is a sense of gratitude amongst players to even have the opportunity to be back out on the field. 
Caroline Hurst, sophomore volleyball player, shares this same feeling, but the decision to come to campus was not an easy one. 
Hurst, who lives in Texas, said it was hard to decide if coming to campus would be worth it with all the uncertainty in the air. Ultimately, she “really wanted to be with her team”, and around the group of girls she loves.
All Augustana sports teams are doing their best to navigate the changes, while simultaneously training for their seasons per usual, which is no easy task.
Both Hurst and Ellinger stated that the hardest adjustment at practice was wearing the mask and not being able to stand close to their teammates. Volleyball is a sport where teammates come together after every play in a huddle, but that can no longer happen because of social distancing.  
Although each team has a different approach to the year, many experience very similar changes to their schedules. 
“[We have] no competitions and only practices, [we have] to wear masks at all times, no longer [hold] any team bonding activities and [have] less lifts,” senior tennis player Annie Timm said.
As a senior spring athlete, Timm remains hopeful that things may turn around for her 2021 tennis season. 
“I would hate to leave senior year without being able to compete,” Timm said. “This year is supposed to be the most monumental and I hope to give one last attempt at qualifying for nationals.” 
Fall sports will be the first to play a season under the influences of COVID-19, and they are already in the midst of training. Senior Justin Murphy is no stranger to a hectic calendar, as a double sport athlete playing for the men’s soccer and volleyball teams.
Getting the freshman adjusted and introduced to the way the soccer program functions is a main goal, Murphy said. 
“We have a great group of freshmen here and I’m beyond excited to see what they bring, how they can help us and how we can help them,” Murphy said. Despite the differences this season will bring on, Murphy is still determined to make the most of it.
Upperclassmen have kept the freshman in check this year, making sure that they understand how important it is to follow Augustana’s COVID-19 guidelines and not attend large gatherings. 
“No one wants to get kicked off (campus),” Hurst said, iterating how the volleyball team captains have informed everyone on how the severity of one’s actions can negatively affect the whole team. 
It is incredibly important to take the precautions necessary to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The school and it’s coaches have been doing a great job enforcing the new COVID-19 rules, said Ellinger and Hurst. Now it is up to the students to do their part, so games can be played in the spring.