In light of the progressing COVID-19 pandemic, Occidental cancelled all spring sports last March only a few weeks into the season. When the College announced that classes would remain online for the Fall 2020 semester, fall sports were cancelled as well. In spite of this, spring sport athletes are optimistic about having a season, at least in some capacity.
“I hope we have a season, since it’ll be my last one,” Anna Lundquist (senior), who plays golf, said. “I hope as a team we place in the top five, and I individually want to place at a tournament.”
According to Antonio Andrade (senior), a member of Occidental’s baseball team, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will make the opportunity to play the game that much more special.
“I want to make it the best final season, especially with all of the circumstances over the last few months,” Andrade said. “We are all going to appreciate the game more.”
Lundquist said she has used golf as an outlet to escape the uncertainty of the past few months. While some sports have been unable to practice with equipment in light of COVID-19 restrictions, Lundquist said she is grateful that golf players are able to play without much change, since golf courses reopened in May.
But athletes’ experiences of training during COVID-19 vary, largely depending on the sport they play.
According to Andrade, baseball players, especially hitters, have been unable to practice with equipment since March. Because of this, Andrade said it is crucial for the team to stay dedicated to the weight room and stay fit.
“We all still have aspirations to reach our peak level of performance. The last few months have really just been an extended offseason, which is just a chance to turn weaknesses into strengths,” Andrade said.
While some athletes like Andrade have stayed close to campus, others opted to train elsewhere, relocating to prepare for their season, should it come.
Matthew Scarlett (junior), a distance-runner on the track team, is training in Fort Collins, CO with some of his teammates.
“We’re getting some good altitude training in, and making the most out of the whole situation,” Scarlett said.
Scarlett also runs for the cross country team and said he is focused on the time trials the team has planned this fall, along with building a good base for the spring.
“I’m living with a bunch of other Oxy runners, and two runners from Middlebury College,” Scarlett said. “It’s still really encouraging to have other like-minded athletes around me every day, and it definitely motivates me to keep improving. I didn’t like training alone through the lockdown in the spring and was really excited about getting to train with my teammates again.”
Rob Bartlett, the head cross country and track coach, continued to provide the team with guidelines for mileage, along with some weight exercises throughout the quarantine in the spring. However, he is shifting to a more structured approach through the fall in preparation for the team’s time trials, and many other coaches are as well.
Andrade said he anticipates head coach Luke Wetmore will be sending training plans to the team soon, tailored to each athlete’s access to equipment. Living with some of his teammates, Andrade decided to move his own weight training equipment into his garage to keep up his training.
“The people in the baseball house use it, but also the smaller community around Oxy has been using it as well,” Andrade said. “We wipe down all of the equipment, limit capacity, and remain very cognizant of the circumstances. It’s really important for me to have some kind of gym facility, and it’s also definitely benefited the people around us.”
According to Lundquist, the golf team will be getting a training plan soon as well.
“Coach Tyler Yamaguchi is going to send us a specific golf training plan soon that we’ll perform on our own. It’s similar to the way he provides training structure throughout the summer, but it’s just going to continue into the fall since we’re remote,” Lundquist said.
While Andrade and others continue training remotely, he said nothing will compare to the feeling of being with his teammates once again.
“I miss it more than anything,” Andrade said. “I can’t wait for the first practice. Anything that I would’ve complained about before, I would do it right now in a heartbeat as long as I get to be with my teammates.”