Marist Athletes Talk A New Norm, Life Without Sports

I remember it being a warm summer day when my coach broke the news to my team. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) had canceled fall sports for the upcoming 2020 season, leaving us heartbroken. Such a major piece of our lives that we have been preparing for all year was taken away from us.

Various athletes from each of Marist’s fall sports programs sat down with Center Field to get an inside look at how they are dealing with their seasons being canceled. The athlete’s unique perspectives allow us to understand the struggles both mentally and physically of working so hard for something that is suddenly no longer possible amid a serious pandemic.

The fall athletes who I was fortunate enough to speak with were: Luke Strnad (football), Ali Bartolotta (women’s cross country), Huib Achterkamp (men’s soccer), Morgan Owens (volleyball), and Esabelle Gervasio (swim and dive). We discussed the mental and physical effects of COVID-19, goals for this fall, ways to stay motivated and fit, and what to expect for this upcoming spring.

Huib, a senior on the men’s soccer team, advises not only fall athletes here at Marist, but athletes across the country to be patient. 

“We are in the midst of fighting a pandemic,” said Huib. “We have to take it day by day and not rush the process despite how eager we all are to get back into competition.”

Bartolotta, a 5th year on the cross country and track & field team, explained how no athlete is alone through this difficult situation.

“We are lucky enough to have the support of our teams behind our backs,” Ali says, something she notes as a key component to getting through this tough time.

Strnad, a redshirt junior on the football team, explains the obstacles faced over quarantine and how we must “trust the process.” The closure of gyms, courts, fields, and tracks in each state required athletes to be flexible and adapt according to what was available to them. This meant less equipment and more body workouts, along with outdoor runs and less treadmill work.

After receiving the news halfway through the summer about the MAAC canceling fall sports, it was hard to keep up the same level of motivation and intensity while working out because there were no longer any games or competitions to work toward. Owens and Gervasio agreed that the only thing to be done is to stay positive and make the best out of the situation we are in.

 “You get out what you put in each day,” they both said. “You should strive to become a better version of yourself.”

While hopes are high for a possible spring season, all that can be done in the meantime is wait for an update from the NCAA and the MAAC on a decision of when the teams are let back out on the field. Athletes are used to playing the game they love every day and treat it like a job. 

Without the game, something feels wrong, something’s gone missing. The athlete’s biggest takeaway from this unexpected and unfortunate situation is to appreciate what you have and what you do because you never know when your life will change.

Edited by David Connelly & Nick Stanziale

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