Athletes find community amidst COVID-19


Photo Courtesy of Michaela Patton

Sophomore Michaela Patton poses for a photo. Patton has joined the club volleyball team this semester.

By Elizabeth Sayasane, Features Editor

When considering the return back to campus this fall, one of the greatest uncertainties was sports. This not only concerned official student-athletes, but also those students who played on club teams and even intramural leagues.

With restricted access to the ARC and limited times and places to play, these students who saw their fellow teammates as some of their closest friends on campus wanted to find solutions.

Michaela Patton, sophomore in Engineering, tried out for the club volleyball team this semester, even amidst the confusion over how it would all work.

Patton tried out for the team as a last-minute decision. She heard tryouts were taking place and realized this may be her only opportunity to play since it would be impossible to find indoor volleyball courts otherwise.

When she made the team, Patton said she was happy to have an excuse to get out of her dorm room to exercise.

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“I usually use exercise as a way to kind of relieve stress and this is just really stressful in general,” she said.

The format for club sports has been different this semester compared to years past. There are no tournaments being hosted at the moment, so they never get to play against other teams.

They do still have practices, but they are required to wear masks during practice and, like the rest of the campus, must be tested twice a week. Patton said they must communicate a lot more specifically when they’re playing. They also are careful to follow the ARC guidelines and rules closely.

“The masks during practice are a little bit annoying, sometimes it’s hard to communicate or hard to breathe even,” she said. “But I think it’s a necessary precaution in order to actually get to play volleyball.”

Patton said she is also hopeful that next semester they may be able to participate in some tournaments, including Nationals. Right now, though, she said just practicing is better than nothing.

Sophomore Michaela Patton serves the ball during a high school volleyball game. (Photo Courtesy of Michaela Patton)

This was also, Patton said, probably her last opportunity to play a team sport with this same setting. While she might play a pick-up game of volleyball, it would be her chance to play at this level with all the girls from her team just as she did during high school. She said this has made her particularly grateful for the chance to play now, even in a limited capacity.

Her team has also assisted Patton in coping with the stress and isolation many are feeling during this time. With all the girls on the team, Patton has been able to create a greater sense of community.

As a new member of the team, Patton has had the chance to meet new people. All the girls, she said, are very sweet and have been great people to get to know.

“They’re great; that’s been nice too because we’re all, like, trying to still continue to do the sport we love despite all the chaos and stuff that’s going on in the world right now,” she said.

While she said it’s unfortunate they have been unable to have a normal volleyball experience with each other, she said, “It’s just added a few people who I know who I can lean on.”

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