As the world of sports resumes play after the long pause due to COVID-19, coaches are preparing their teams to compete once again. At Westmont, coaches are working endlessly to make sure their teams can play, while also closely following the safety guidelines.
With many teams starting to practice and compete in matches, sports are slowly returning to their standard seasons. Coaches in all of these sports have been adamant about protecting their athletes as well as creating a sense of normalcy within their respective teams. I asked some of Westmont’s coaches how their seasons are going with the various challenges they’ve faced.
The cross country team is currently in the midst of training and competing in meets. They are set to compete in the William Jessup University Invitational on Oct. 24. Coach Russell Smelley explained the importance of COVID-19 protocols and how they have affected the beginning of their season. “The athletes are being disciplined and following practice protocols. The big difference in the season has been losing a month of being together at the start of the semester plus taking the necessary time to prepare for each practice by completing the required COVID protocols.”
Additionally, Coach Dave Wolf, the men’s soccer head coach, specifically touched on some of the hardest parts about training during this time. “In full transparency, some aspects have been challenging. Training in small group pods (we have not been permitted to put our whole team together at this point), constantly doing symptom checks, wearing masks and operating a social distance are, frankly, exhausting. There is a very real sense of loss and grieving as it pertains to many aspects of the athletic experience.”
This perspective from Coach Wolf is a very real example of the toll COVID-19 has taken on specific aspects of the sport, especially pertinent when it comes to practicing together as a team, when athletes and coaches typically have a lot more liberty to do as they please.
Likewise, the head coach for the women’s volleyball team, Coach Ruth McGolpin, gave her input as the team came off of an impressive season last year. “It has been difficult after such an amazing #2-finish last year at the NAIA Championships, but through it all, we have remained positive and encouraged that God’s plan is still evolving for us. This team has such potential to be great and we just have to stay patient.”
This year has presented an array of challenges that coaches have never had to face before. However, we are learning that Westmont’s coaches are resilient and hard-working, regardless of the circumstances. They are leading by example during these unprecedented times and deserve kudos for their efforts.