Athlete or not, COVID-19 has taught everyone the importance of being flexible.
The challenges of recent schedule changes have become very real to Taylor's athletic department in the last few weeks, and efforts to stay prepared and in communication within the department and other schools is vital.
For the first few weeks of in-season sports, teams were competing as planned. Everyone was thankful to be on campus, travelling and competing. Not until the middle of the fall season have coaches begun to start telling their players that games are cancelled or opponents are switching.
While Taylor teams have been clear for the most part, each sport must deal with other schools who are facing significant setbacks. These uncontrollables may have been mainly caused by opponents, but the ripple effect is unavoidable.
Head baseball coach and Athletic Director Kyle Gould participates in weekly meetings with the other schools in Taylor’s conference as he and the athletic department discuss what it will take to keep teams healthy.
“We’ve tried to do everything we can to say yes to playing,” said Gould.
With every sport comes unique challenges depending on the level of contact and whether it is indoor or outdoor. Combining Taylor athletics’ care to follow CDC guidelines, the school’s rural location and commitment to only testing symptomatic people is believed to contribute to its position with numbers among the lowest in the country. Further factors attributing to the longevity of sports seasons include coaches intentionally structuring practices to accommodate COVID-related restrictions, athletic trainers checking athletes every day and the athletes themselves committing to making good decisions.
Men’s soccer Coach Gary Ross has chosen an attitude of gratefulness during the unpredictable circumstances and is thankful to be playing while the rest of the country is shut down. However, there have been significant modifications, as the men’s soccer team faced qualifying changes for the upcoming tournament. This wrench in the game was a disappointment, as the team was feeling stronger and looking forward to showcasing their progress in more games.
The initial schedule had the team playing each opponent twice, and Coach Ross was looking forward to the unique opportunity of facing teams two times. Now, as day to day presents unpredictable challenges, it is ever important to focus on the mental and be present.
“It’s just a matter of a mental decision to be more flexible. You have to show up every day,” Ross said.
COVID-19 has forced teams to be more mentally flexible.
Captain of the women’s Soccer team and senior, Reyna Williams has also experienced this first hand, as the team’s schedule recently underwent significant changes for the second half of the season.
“The schedule changes have been mentally challenging for preparing for games and then figuring out they were cancelled...It’s definitely an open mindset that I think we’ve all learned. I think the team has had a positive attitude about it, which has made it a lot easier,” Williams said.
No one wants to wear masks in an environment that is known for comradery and competition, but if that means playing through the end of the season, then teams are eager to push through and finish what they have started.