Coronavirus & life as a student-athlete during a pandemic

Coronavirus & life as a student-athlete during a pandemic

By: Tess Santos ’21, a business administration with a concentration in management major and forward for the Women’s Basketball team

We are living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 is putting us to the test, new challenges arise on a daily basis and all we can do is react to things that are out of our control. When things are unpredictable it is easy to feel overwhelmed while getting caught up in the chaos. It is important to sometimes take a step back and try to look at things from a different perspective. Today I will be sharing with you my individual experience as a student-athlete with COVID-19.

When the virus started to spread in March 2019, we were still in our basketball season. We were about to play the second round of the tournament when the rest of our season got canceled. While our games got canceled, PC extended its spring break for 2 more weeks. I stayed on campus with other internationals until the end of March, until we went permanently online for the rest of the semester. Regarding the summer, I already had my plans set since the beginning of 2020. I planned on participating in PC’s Summer Program in Lyon, France in May, travel to Greece and Italy in June, spend a couple of weeks at home in Portugal, and finally fly back to the USA for the second session of summer school in July. As the situation became more and more serious, one program/plan got canceled after the other and I ended up staying four and a half months at home with my parents.

As devastating as it was not being able to finish the season, having to fly home earlier than usual, and not getting to travel as I wanted to during the summer, I realized how lucky I was that I was able to be received by my parents with open arms and that I was kept safe during the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. Additionally, because the summer program got canceled, I had to find an internship which then led me to have the opportunity to work for the Office of Advancement during the Fall of 2020.

Coming back to school in August was not easy. Because of the borders being closed, the international students had to get a different Visa that confirmed that our classes were not online. Overall, the situation was pretty stressful because no one knew what was going to happen and no one had answers. While facing such an unfamiliar situation with so much uncertainty, there was no guarantee that I would be able to come back for my last year. My parents were always incredibly supportive and available to me. They stood behind me throughout the whole process of trying to understand what was going on and what was going to happen and kept reminding me that at the end of the day we were fortunate to have each other and at any possible outcome they would make the best they could to make it work for me.

Nevertheless, I made it to the US on August 11th and got tested as soon as I got back on campus and when the test result came back negative, I was able to move into my apartment. A few days later presential classes started and we were finally able to have workouts following the COVID guidelines, which included staying 6 feet apart and wearing our masks for certain drills. Everything was going well until we had an outbreak on Campus and went online for 2 weeks. We were not allowed to have in-person classes, nor to practice. According to the Blue Hose COVID-19 protocol, the athletes who catch the virus have to stay isolated for at least 10 days and have to stay symptoms free for 14 days before they can start their back-to-practice recovery.

On October 26th, after the 2 weeks of having online classes, we were back to in-person classes and back on the court and because we are getting tested every week, we are now able to practice with contact. We are preparing for our season and doing everything we can to respond to the adversities, as we have our first game scheduled for November 25th.

In times with this type of adversity, it is key to be able to adapt. Everyone is having to deal with this virus, but the ones who can change their mindset, accept things as they come, and make the best of the situation, are the ones who will have a more successful outcome. This can be applied in school as well as in basketball. Going from in-person classes to online back and forward is something nobody is used to. Nevertheless, students must use the resources available and be able to change their mindset and adapt, even when things are not happening like they would like. This same concept applies to basketball. Not knowing what is going to happen during our season is hard. We have to stay prepared to embrace every challenge that comes towards us and make the best out of every opportunity that is given to us. If we are not able to do contact, then we will get better at our individual skills, if we are not able to practice, we will focus on staying in shape while doing some home workouts and getting our minds right by doing some mental training. The hardest part is to stay mentally ready for any possible changes, therefore, it is essential to focus on the present and on the things that we can control and appreciate what we have and can do.

At times like these, people are more prone to getting anxiety or even depression. To reduce the odds of suffering due to the uncertainty of things and lack of control, it can be good to try out new things and create new habits like journaling. What has helped me individually is to plan my week ahead of time. Planning my schedule, writing down things that I have to get done throughout that week, and journaling about my feelings reduces my chances of feeling overwhelmed or even anxious about certain events.

Having restricted social contact is not easy and certainly not usual for a college student. Every once in a while, I get upset thinking about this being my last year at PC and not being able to do things and go to events that I normally would. Nevertheless, I am happy that I am living on campus and having in-person classes. I remind myself every day that I cannot take classes and practices with or without contact for granted and luckily, I am at PC, a structured system that supports all students and does the best it can to provide a sense of normalcy and is working hard to support all students and still give us the college experience that we all came here for.

Staying disciplined is essential and will be particularly important throughout this year, considering the possibility of having a basketball season and face-to-face classes in the spring semester as well. Everyone needs to do their part. Let us hold each other accountable and do the best we can to stay positive and responsible. Go Blue Hose!