Despite the Summit League President’s Council’s vote to unanimously postpone the regular season and championships for fall sports, USD athletics have continued to practice while simultaneously attempting to navigate the pandemic.
According to USD’s COVID-19 Dashboard, the university saw a peak of 238 active COVID cases and 666 self-isolated students on Sep. 2. While the cases have been trending towards zero in recent days, some student athletes have been forced to self-quarantine and miss practices since the semester began, giving them less time to prepare for competition.
While it’s expected that missing practices would affect athletes’ conditioning and performance, senior swimmer Maddie Gallagher said one of the hardest parts of quarantine was not being able to socialize with her teammates.
“I struggled with the thought that my team was still training together while I was stuck in my room,” Gallagher said. “I did have some visitors to my window, which was super appreciated, but the whole time I just wanted to be back in the pool with my team. The swim and dive team is like a huge family, so I really missed everyone the whole time.”
Gallagher said she was the only member of her team to test positive, but many other members were forced to self-isolate due to exposure risks and pending test results. She said she commended her teammates and coaching staff for the efforts being made to create a safe practice environment.
“So far, our team has handled the quarantine protocols very well, and everyone is currently healthy and practicing,” Gallagher said. “Our coaching staff is very good about requiring face coverings and social distancing, which is especially hard in the pool, but I’m really proud of how well everyone has been coping. One of our main focuses this year is adapting to change, and everyone is doing a great job with this.”
Aside from missed time with teammates and coaches, athletes in quarantine must also adjust their schedules with no practice to attend. A junior track team member who asked to remain anonymous expressed how weird it felt not being able to train or practice while battling COVID-19.
“Missing practice was tough because I’m used to being out there and being active every day,” they said. “There were quite a few of us in quarantine at the same time, but it didn’t really affect our group or cause any issues. It was very strange for some of us to be sidelined while the rest were able to continue training.”
Despite the uniqueness of their situation, the track athlete said their coaches made strides to help ease them back into practice and stay as close to performance shape as possible.
“Conditioning definitely took a hit for me personally. That was a two-part mix between being sick and not being active for so long,” they said. “However, our coach had separate workouts designed for athletes who were in quarantine in order to ease us back into things safely, which helped with my return process. After a few practices, I felt pretty close to where I had been prior to quarantining.”
Gallagher said she felt nervous about her return to the water, but similarly got back into the swing of things relatively quickly.
“I was very worried about missing 10 days of practice because it’s easy to lose your feel for the water when you’re out of the pool for a while,” Gallagher said. “But I was actually able to get back into shape pretty quick, which I was thankful for. The coaching staff was very supportive as I started training again, and that really facilitated my first couple of days back in the water and on the field conditioning.”