Athletes in times of COVID-19

The last 10 months of the pandemic have thrown college students across the country into uncertainty — and student-athletes were no exception to the challenges.

Juwarren Byrd remembers being alerted in mid-July. The senior was preparing for a “deep run in the USA South Football division” before receiving the devastating news that the USA South athletic conference would be postponing all activities because of coronavirus concerns. Typically, college athletes rarely go home. Aside from a few weeks during the summer, and a short break or two during the academic year, they are on campus, training and competing. 

“Staying at home, I feel like it’s a good thing and a bad thing. As student-athletes, we don’t ever get this time to hang out with our families or have this kind of down time or time to yourself. In a way that’s been good, to have a little down time, pick up some hobbies, play some more video games and yet you can get in the same amount of work. You just have to be accountable to yourself and expect your teammates are doing the same thing”Byrd said.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in the middle of March, student-athletes have lived a different reality in quarantine. Classes and team meetings online, rehab and workouts at home or in private gyms, extra family time but also the challenges that come with that. Some dealt with injuries or mental challenges. Others used the time for reflection, self-improvement, and personal time. 

Madison Blashaw, a senior on the Greensboro College Women’s lacrosse team, has taken it upon herself to be a sounding board for her teammates, particularly during the last five months.

“I tell teammates, ‘If you want to have a conversation, feel free to reach out to me.’ A lot of seniors feel that way, a lot of people on the team feel that way, and it goes up to our coaching staff,” Blashaw said. She believes having access to counseling services on campus is very helpful as well.

There has been quite a bit of discussion in the news lately about whether to pause or resume college athletics during the pandemic. Student-athletes have also thought a great deal about COVID-19 and how the virus will impact their lives and athletic careers.

By Keyondric Buchanan