College athletes fight the invisible enemy, mental and physical challenges

Graphic design by Riley Hayes

Since it’s onset, the COVID-19 crisis has built a residue of mental and physical stress on student-athletes at every level causing them to modify daily strategies of self-care and awareness.

According to the American Psychological Association, stressors include fear of exposure to COVID-19 (43%), lack of motivation (40%), feelings of stress or anxiety (21%), and sadness or depression (13%).

About 80% said they were having a hard time keeping up their athletic training, in part because they didn’t have access to an appropriate facility.

Sports schedules are consistently being altered with teams being disposed to quarantine due to the increase of positive infections and contact tracing among the mandatory surveillance COVID-19 testing 25% of teams bi-weekly.

“I think COVID has affected my mental state more than anything else at this point,” Emilee Autry, soccer player, said.

After being chosen for the second time of surveillance testing and testing positive, Autry was worried about keeping up with the classroom demands more than anything else.

“Being a nursing major, it’s really difficult to miss one class, let alone 10-14 days all together,” Autry said. “I also have had no symptoms whatsoever along with that positive test result so it’s really mentally challenging to be forced into isolation when I feel completely healthy.”

Canada has an ongoing rate of positive cases rising at 214K that will challenge Quincy University men’s lacrosse player Giulio Fortugno to discover a way to remain physically fit over the extended hiatus students are home this winter.

“I’m lucky enough that my parents have an elliptical, bench press, and chin up bar as well as a set of dumbbells so I’ll be using those everyday,” Fortugno said. “I also have a pair of spikes that go over my running shoes which lets me run outside on the icy road without slipping.”

Lacrosse is a first year program full of freshmen dealing with this worldwide pandemic. That means there is a tremendous amount of stress to the team.

“Getting tested every two weeks gave us the opportunity to keep going but also kept us on our toes and didn’t let us take the fall season for granted,” Fortugno said. “Everyone worked hard and wanted the same results so everyone abided by the COVID guidelines and it resulted in very minimal positive cases which let us get the full extent of fall ball.”

Just days after the 2020-21 basketball schedules were released, both teams got sent to quarantine for two weeks because of contact tracing involving COVID-19.

The Quincy, Illinois native and mens’ basketball standout Tanner Stuckman aims to replicate his normal training week as best as he can.

“Right now three times a week of at home workouts, three times a week of a one mile timed run then getting shots up every day outside on my driveway,” Stuckman said. “It’s really tough to do everything exactly how I want it, but this is a routine that I found keeps me in the best shape possible during the quarantine.”

The men’s basketball team had already served a quarantine earlier this fall which was a lot more challenging for veteran Stuckman and the squad because of their season still being up in the air.

“We had to stay motivated hoping for a season, but now that we have a season with a set date, that gives our team a ton of motivation and fire to want to stay in shape and be ready to play,” Stuckman said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the last time we will have to do this because of all the testing required, but we are taking it one day at a time and we are excited for our first game.”

Autry and student-athletes share a common sentiment about the entire situation.

“Overall, I think I can speak for most people our age when I say that we’re ready for COVID to be a distant memory and some normalcy to return to our lives,” Autry said.

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