An Unconventional Sports Season

My Experience As A Spring Athlete

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Photo credit: Maddy Leja

“Sports have… changed” “Yeah!!! We won!” Comic by cartoonist Maddy Leja.

I walk up to Parker on my very first day of field hockey preseason. Despite the nerves kicking in for the conditioning that awaits me, I’m excited to hold a stick for the first time in weeks–maybe even months. Walking in through the Webster Avenue lot, I open the double doors. 

A security guard is the first person I see, and they are holding a thermometer up to my head as an assistant coach recites a series of questions that I have begun to hear an abnormal amount these days. I robotically respond no to each question I’m asked and locate the familiar faces within the crowd of field hockey players. 

Next I have to check in with yet another coach to make sure that my spit test is submitted and that I’m good to go. I am. Finally, I sit down in the hallway and wait for further instruction before going outside to complete the dreaded conditioning test. 

A normal season for me would entail excitement, nerves, and dreaded conditioning, but this season is different. Never before has a field hockey season of mine begun with a security guard holding a thermometer up to my head rather than excitedly running out to the turf field on a hot summer morning. 

With this season, along with the normal first day routine, many typical aspects of the field hockey season have vanished. The crazy tan I usually get during the season has turned into texting my friends and asking how many layers they are wearing. The post preseason walks to get lunch and an early start to our day has shifted to being picked up to go home, eat dinner, and attempt homework. Almost everything is completely different. 

Sadly numerous traditions have also vanished. While there are efforts to bring the season back to the usual standard, some aspects of the season just can’t be recovered.  If spectators aren’t even allowed, there is absolutely no way that a team-wide sleepover would be allowed.

For me, this season started in a vicious manner. During the first two weeks of the spring season, on some days, I, along with some others that were also participating in both basketball and field hockey, would go to one practice from 4:40 p.m. to 6:10p.m., and then on to the next from 6:40p.m. to 8:10p.m.. Along with this overlap came many challenges: homework management, splitting time between practices, prioritizing practices, and overall exhaustion. 

On days that the two practices overlapped, I had to choose which practice to attend. If a game was coming up, intentions of starting off the season on a good note and the intentions of ending the season on a good note were all reasonable factors. It was tough to choose to go to one practice and skip the other because to the coaches it seems like a plain statement, “I like this sport better,” when in reality, there were many contributing factors. 

While I have mainly mentioned the negative parts of this overlap, there were also various benefits. Having a season overlap gave me a huge wave of things to do in such little time which brought me to push my time management skills. Most of the time I end up getting more work done when I have long commitments like these because I am in the mindset that I have to get my work done sooner/faster. 

Now I am fully transitioned out of basketball and solely a field hockey player, yet this season still feels very different. Another huge change has been the decrease in practice length. Each practice has been moved from the usual two hours to one and a half. Given that these seasons have already been cut short/compressed, we are missing out on hours upon hours of practice we would usually have. 

These missing hours of practicemeanwe are missing time to incorporate enough of the things vital to  our success: conditioning, getting used to playing together again, getting into real game scenarios at practice, and so much more. The odds are stacked against us this year, but these less than ideal situations have been placed upon everyone throughout this past year, and now we have to show up and deal with it as best as we can. 

This season is prompting the same question from all of us: what does this all mean for next year? My belief is that good things are to come. The biggest difference that comes to mind in terms of next season is we usually will start our season after not playing for an entire year, but next season, the break between one season to another will be significantly shorter than usual, leaving less time to lose skills and good habits. 

In addition to this, things can only go up from here. Our seasons this year have been significantly shorter than average. Hopefully next year we should be back to full seasons. An entire season to grow to the extent that we usually have the opportunity to will be infinitely beneficial. 

While this year was challenging, frustrating, and unpredictable, I would do it all again because the good parts have outweighed the bad. In the end, growth, good relationships, and of course a good time is all that I need from my season, and I feel that I have already gotten all of those things.