How Have Our Athletics Been Affected by COVID-19?


Jacob Marscola, Staff Writer

On March 11, 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, causing the entire world to go on lockdown and follow strict guidelines. These guidelines limited a number of activities, including our very own fall sports teams, who would have been practicing routinely all of this past Summer. I caught up with some players who have been experiencing these changes firsthand as they attempt to be ready and prepare for their seasons ahead.

On July 6th of this year, Saint Joe was able to open up organized athletic practices to the current sports that were eager to finally start workouts. Procedures that players and coaches have been having to follow include wearing masks, answering health-screening questions, staying socially distant from one another as much as possible, and constant sanitizing of any equipment used during practices. Locker rooms have so far been limited to staying socially distant, wearing masks, and not keeping personal belongings in the lockers overnight. Athletes are encouraged to go home and clean up as much as possible to avoid any spread that may have occurred anywhere during the time they were at practice. Competitive events and games have been following the same guidelines issued by the city of South Bend regarding all spectators, players, and coaches. 

Senior soccer goalkeeper Kyle Tupper exlplained, “Our team practices, especially our summer workouts, looked completely different. We barely even touched the ball over the summer and it was just a lot of running. And especially with being split up into groups … we didn’t feel connected as a team.” As the team entered the regular season, Tupper shared that, “practices have started to feel completely normal, [and] even with the masks and social distancing, it’s started to feel like a normal season.” 

Senior quarterback Matthew Eck shared his insights about the football team. “It took us a while to actually get back to practicing because of COVID-19. We started late, so we were behind, and we had to space out, so we couldn’t come together as a team for a couple of weeks.” Eck explained there was an upside. “I think we’ve gotten closer, because we realize that our season could come to an end at any time.” Regarding games and competitions, Eck added, “I feel like it’s the same game. We’re still having fun and still getting better.”

Senior cheerleader Marie Achkar revealed that the restrictions applied to the cheer squad as well.  “A big part of cheering is the stunting aspect. We were not able to throw flyers in the air, and we couldn’t come together to be able to practice that.” She also added, “During games, I would say the atmosphere was a little different because… you see people distanced, with masks on.” Marie also said the entire team has definitely gained a better appreciation for cheer, as it was and still is in danger of being taken away from them at any second. 

Sammie Jurkovic, of the Saint Joe Volleyball team, explained that going back to volleyball after quarantine was difficult because she hadn’t seen her friends in a long time. “It was really good to see each other, but you couldn’t be within six feet of each other, and you had to wear a mask at all times.” The adversity of the coronavirus has helped the team. “We have grown a lot closer together, and we’re with each other every single day, practicing to get better… and I know there are a lot of schools who don’t have sports right now… so we definitely have a blessing.”

Athletes continue to persevere through adversity and maintain a positive mindset, glad to be competing at all this fall.