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New Beginnings: An Athlete’s Reaction to the Coronavirus

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Written by Lauren Roth

Humor, making jokes. It tends to be a method we all use to deal with any type of negative emotion, whether it be fear, anxiety, sadness, or anger. Humor allows us to lighten a situation up, and it’s something we’ve all been turning towards a lot during this time. 

Back in July, my coach, Coach Banks, emailed my team to expect an email from Coach Allison about what Roanoke College Athletics will be doing this fall. She said, “Expect an email at the end of the week.” Well, the end of the week arrived, and we got nothing. Another couple of days went by and nothing. Then, my teammates sent a picture of them sitting, waiting with the caption, “Waiting for Coach Allison’s email like…” Then, a joke was born. 

Every day or the next week and a half various team members of mine would send pictures of them waiting for the email, and we got pretty creative. My favorite was probably one someone sent from behind a shower curtain pretending to shower. The humor was good, and it helped us make light of the uncertain situation. Then, the email finally came. Each and every athlete at Roanoke knew exactly what the email was going to say. ODAC canceled all fall and winter sports until Jan 1st. That was it. Our season wasn’t happening.

There are many words you can use to explain how I, my team, all of Roanoke College, and all ODAC athletes felt following that news. We were upset, disappointed, heartbroken, and helpless. At first, I was in shock. I could not grasp that the one thing I had known so consistently for so many years was gone just like that. There was nothing I could do to change it. 

Any athlete will tell you they don’t just play a sport, but that their identity revolves around it. Every part of an athlete’s routine revolves around their sport. From what you eat to how you represent yourself to how you act, it all impacts your game and your identity. It is quite literally who you are. So, when I found out that I wasn’t playing it made me question a lot of things. What was my semester going to look like? What would I do with all my spare time? Do I still train? What will training look like? Is it lifting and conditioning? Any major news like that leaves people with a lot of questions, as I am sure each and every person has faced this year. 

Once I got over the initial shock of not playing the sport I love, I was sad. I was lost and felt hopeless. A lot of emotions went through me followed by even more unanswered questions. It was almost like I was going through the five stages of grief, which seems a little dramatic, but I lost something I held dear to me, and I am sure many other athletes would agree. 

As time went on and we got more news about what the semester would look like at Roanoke College, I processed what I was going to do for the semester. Personally, I made the goal for myself to improve not just physically, but also mentally in my game. I reflected on what I wanted to be able to do if we would have a season in the spring. I trained as if we were going to still have a season, as if I was going to return to campus and have to begin the fall semester by running the gauntlet. I handled the news with the hopelessness that this wasn’t the end of all results. 

I think that’s how many athletes are handling this fall. We are taking it as a time to improve, to return to the game with new abilities and talents no one has ever seen before. This isn’t just Roanoke athletes or ODAC athletes, this is everyone who calls themself an athlete, from the professional to the beginner level. 

The coronavirus has brought upon a lot of challenges and downfalls this year, but it has also brought lots of opportunities for new beginnings. Those new beginnings are what we athletes will take advantage of.