by Varun Maheshwari ’23

Throwback: Jamie Diluzio ’21 scores an extra-time penalty to secure Davidson a 2-1, non-conference win in September, 2018. Pictured: Jaylen Thompson ’20 and Jack Wilson ’22. Photo courtesy of Tim Cowie

Davidson’s closure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every student uniquely; for the roughly 25 percent of students who play a varsity sport, the pandemic means a complete re-working of their athletic routine. The college cancelled all spring sport seasons as well as the A-10 basketball tournament and spring practices for fall teams. So, as Davidson students scatter themselves around the country during this time of crisis, what are these athletes doing to maintain fitness? 

With many teams incorporating multi-day lifts during a typical on-campus week, the status quo has changed with athletes being at home. Additionally, widespread closures in states across the country have caused many athletes to struggle to find open gyms. This is a problem for most teams, as many states have gone into lockdown or given stay-at-home orders, which prevent athletes from training in community spaces. In response, many coaches have worked hard to provide schedules for athletes during this time, advising them to maintain physical and mental fitness through in-home exercises, including body weight circuits, simple skill drills, and homework activities. 

Women’s soccer defender Keeley Copper ‘23 mentioned, “They gave us body weight lifts since most people don’t have gyms, and it’s definitely an obstacle to not be able to play on an actual field.” Copper also mentioned that “the coaches have modified a lot of our workouts with ball handling drills that are cone based.”

 As the soccer season takes place in the fall, all the athletes have to simulate spring practices to stay on track. Jake Myers ‘22, a defender on the men’s team, stated, “while it was truly unfortunate how these events unfolded, we truly only missed six weeks [of spring practices]… Terrence, our lift coach, sent us a plan, and we’re starting to get into our summer routine.” 

Mental exercise is often an important aspect of the off-season. Athletics consume a lot of mental real estate, and many athletes often do not get to disconnect and focus on that side of the game while in season. Yash Parikh ‘21, a rising senior on the tennis team, has taken the time to hone both sides of his game, mentioning that he has “taken the time off to work on the mental stuff. I’ve been doing yoga and lifting everyday […] I’m not competing, so I can be sore and still lift and not worry about tennis.” 

Senior field hockey midfielder Valerie Hajek ‘21 added, “My coaches have made it pretty easy to stay in contact with them […] We have daily hockey homework, six days a week, that includes a hockey packet and running, hockey and lifting, and we have to turn in a note about the workout. Every Wednesday, we have a team Zoom meeting, and this past week we had a goal presentation which really helped with keeping everyone motivated.”

The school closure has also challenged athletes’ motivation, separating them from the teammates and coaches who typically urge them on. Team chemistry, as Hajek mentioned, gives a boost to many athletes who feel a connection and a responsibility to contribute their best to workouts to stay on track.

With lacking equipment, time, and space to complete daily tasks, maintaining aptitude as a student athlete grows all the more difficult. However, Davidson’s culture of athletic excellence persists and encourages each athlete to continue striving for greatness.