by Max McKenna ’24 (he/ him)
As the spring sports seasons begin to hit their final stretch, the players and coaches are merely just starting what will likely be a grueling and unprecedented offseason. Due to conflicts with COVID-19, Davidson’s sports teams that typically play in the fall, such as football and soccer, are currently playing out their seasons in the spring. These same teams will also be playing next year in the fall, further complicating the situation. The result of this will be a condensed and potentially rushed offseason, meaning the players won’t have nearly as much time to rest and prepare as they typically would. The logistics of the situation are complex, but Davidson faculty, coaches and players are eager to make it work.
Davidson’s Athletic Director Chris Clunie ‘06 stated that there isn’t an exact formula for handling the upcoming offseason: “A lot of it is decentralized, if you will. It’s just focused on what teams are going to do individually, what their coaches are going to do, in consultation with our sports performance staff like the training room and strength coaches.”
Further, Clunie emphasized how the current seasons have been molded in an attempt to cater to the players having back-to-back seasons, as well as for COVID concerns. Some of these adaptations include a schedule reduction of about 25%, in addition to being regionalized so the players won’t have to travel as far.
Lastly, Clunie said he and the coaches are making sure to protect the players as much from injuries due to the quick turnaround. He finished by saying, “I’m just happy with the ability to play.”
Women’s Soccer Coach Adam Denton remarked on some of the difficulties of not having a break during the spring, “So, normally in the spring, you start to shape the players you have for next year and then incorporate freshmen. This spring, it’s very hard to do that…”.
Denton also mentioned how it’s difficult to create a full competition season environment for the players right now, but they’re trying to emulate it as much as possible through what is largely a normal training regime. Denton concluded by saying “I just feel so lucky [to be coaching]” and that the administration has “been nothing but supportive.”
When talking of the quick turnaround, Shannon Lytle ‘22, a forward on the women’s soccer team, joked, “We’ll see how that goes, especially that I’m going into my senior year, I’m definitely starting to feel old. So, we’ll see how the body feels.” On a more serious note, Lytle mentioned how Coach Denton is “Really big on recovery…it’s one of his main priorities to keep us healthy.” Lytle said recovery has been slightly more difficult in part to not being allowed to take ice baths due to COVID.
Lytle continued by saying that the most pressing issue for the quick turnaround may not even be physical recovery. “I think that the harder part is going to be mentally going from getting out of one season and only having a few months to prepare for another one. It also doesn’t give you much time to train as a team together and grow,” she said.
Cole Foley ‘22, an offensive lineman on the men’s football team had an optimistic outlook when asked if the shortened offseason will give them enough time to prepare: “I think so. I think we could have a really quick turn around. Overall I think it’s plenty of time to prepare.” He mentioned simply that he and his teammates are going to get in the weight room and work harder than ever to prepare.
In terms of what steps are being taken looking towards next season, Foley said “I think a big thing that the teams are doing is to get guys to stay closer to campus over the summer so we’re all together and make sure everyone’s on the right track to getting back in shape.” Also, “The strength [and conditioning] staff have done great work so we’re staying in shape pretty well.”
Foley concluded by saying that the coaching staff has been “Doing a great job,” and in respect to the administration’s decisions for this season and the next one, “I really do think they’re making the correct move. They’re trying to be cautious and I respect that.”
It’s clear that our athletes, coaches, and administrative staff are more than capable of adapting to a situation as difficult as the one presented. It appears there is an optimistic, refreshing consensus that next year, things will go as planned and we will take one step closer to normalcy.