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What it's Like Being an Athlete During Covid

Updated: Aug 29, 2021

This past year has been difficult. It’s safe to say that it’s been difficult for all of us, and quite frankly “difficult” may not be a strong enough word to describe 2020. The past eight or so months have taken a devastating toll on many industries and people, whether it be the medical industry, sports industry, doctors or athletes. Hopefully in the years to come, we’ll be able to recall and possibly even laugh about what a hectic year 2020 was.

As we all know, and have experienced firsthand, quarantine and being stuck at home for months on end isn’t fun. For those of us who are athletes, it could've been worse, but in retrospect, many athletes, including me, hadn’t had a substantial break from sports in a long time, especially since a large majority of athletes train year round with maybe a few days off here and there. Consequently, the break part might not have been so bad afterall.

Be sure to check out my previous article that touches on the importance of quality rest!

I recall recently seeing a comment on Instagram under this meme about Covid. It read: “All we wanted was a two-week-long spring break.” Another comment read: “A year was wasted online,” while a different person described what 2020 was like in four parts: “January, February, Quarantine, and December.”

If that doesn’t sum up the 2020 college student experience, then I don’t know what does. One extra week of spring break turned into a month. A month turned into months, and here we are nearly a year later. The vast majority of schools are still partaking in online learning; however, athletics are finally beginning to be reimplemented with safety procedures in place.

With that being said, in August I discussed the topic of training throughout Covid with Zoie Hartman (SEC Freshman of the Year), and Ayoka Lee (Big-12 Freshman of the Year). Here's what they had to say:

Zoie Hartman, Women's Swimming ‘23, Univ. of Georgia

[Zoie is currently pursuing a major in Exercise and Sport Science]

What kept you motivated this past summer during the extended break we had? It's very easy to lose motivation, how'd you keep going?

"I feel like athletes on any team, in any sport, should know that their team needs them in particular. No matter how small or insignificant they may feel. The thought that as an athlete your team needs you really motivates me to keep going and personally I just want what's best for myself and my teammates. So I know that if I do my best, if I put in the work every day, it'll be both beneficial for myself and for the team."

How difficult was it for you to carry that mindset throughout the duration of quarantine?

I think it was definitely hard in the beginning, for the first two months, I was kind of down in the dumps, kind of like: "What do I even do?" I couldn't even get in the water for a very long time. I had to run and I absolutely hate running [laughs]. So it was really hard for me to keep that mentality, but I knew that at some point, I'd end up back in the water. I knew that eventually everything's gonna return back to normal and I need to be ready for that. I'm currently training for the 2021 Olympic Trials next year. So I was like, "That's my goal right now. If our college season doesn't happen, then that's what I'm going for." It's definitely a good idea to just have a goal, it can be big or small. It's just something in the future that you can look forward to and keeps you going.

Ayoka Lee, Women's Basketball '23, Kansas State

Have you been able to learn anything so far in your coursework that could be put into action with basketball?

[Ayoka is currently pursuing a major in Psychology]

That's a great question. I'm actually in a social psychology class right now and we're learning about human behavior and reinforcing behaviors which is basically exploring the thought of why we do what we do. We've discussed a lot of things like intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. I think that with Covid and having to go home and not having practice or games for three months - it was really relevant with that stuff. Especially because of how we kind of had to be intrinsically motivated during that time.

What was it like for you during your time back home?

So, my mom actually moved to Kansas a couple months after I got to college. She got a job about an hour away from campus and so all the sudden I was in Kansas, in this tiny town. So it was just really hard because it was just me and my mom and I didn't have any friends nearby since everyone was at home. To add onto that there was only like one school nearby with a basketball court and its gym was closed with the rims taken down. So yeah, it was a struggle just because I think I took everything for granted. You know, simple things like having access to a facility that I can go to every day; having a weight room and a strength coach that's available to me pretty much whenever. Having to work out by myself was just so very different, especially the social factor, because I didn't realize how big of an impact it was to be around other people until I was by myself.

Ayoka in action!

I just shared Zoie and Ayoka's experiences with Covid. What's it been like for you? Tell us in the comments below! Feel free to share our tips and advice by hitting the share button and leaving a like!

Follow us on Instagram @theaccoladeblog for more content! Thanks for reading!

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