As the holidays rapidly approach and Southern California issues new stay-at-home orders, many people are left wondering what the 2020 holiday season will look like, especially for student athletes.
Westmont athletes have already seen their seasons undergo some major reconstruction due to COVID-19 restrictions, and teams and coaches now face a new challenge: How should student athletes spend their Christmas break in order to stay safe and active?
While basketball is currently mid-season, almost all Westmont sports are starting their seasons next semester, since fall sports were postponed to spring. With that in mind, coaches must decide whether student athletes should have an undisturbed winter break or keep their players under tighter restrictions in order to ensure a successful season come January.
Different teams and coaches are choosing their own approaches and strategies.
Thomas Knecht, head coach for the golf team, said that his golfers will have a normal break “and, we’re hoping, a normal spring season.”
Similarly, senior Matthew Alleman said that the men’s tennis team is scheduled to have a normal break, and while their coach would like for the players to return to campus a few days early, it is not mandatory.
Women’s volleyball head coach Ruth McGolpin chose to shorten her athletes’ break by about a week, explaining, “COVID-19 will impact our team’s Christmas break in that they all will be returning to start their winter training camp on Jan. 3. The team will need to quarantine for a few days, get tested, get their results back and then practice hopefully by the tail end of that week.”
Sophomore Keelyn Kistner, a member of the women’s volleyball team, believes that the extra practice time will highly benefit their team. Kistner said, “I feel pretty confident in my team for next season to push through any obstacle that comes our way.”
The men’s soccer team opted for a similar strategy. Sophomore Justin Nakaoka described their coach’s plan for a mini training camp the week before spring classes start. Despite having a shorter break, Nakaoka admitted that he’s excited to get to spend a little extra time with his teammates, getting to know the new first-years and transfers.
Nakaoka’s teammate, senior Isaiah Bolton, echoed this sentiment, explaining that their coach “modified [our break] to simulate a mini training camp. Usually, in the fall, we come about a month early to start training together, but now we only have a week.”
However, Bolton admitted, “I’m grateful they’re still trying to give us an opportunity to have time before classes start to focus only on our sport.”
It appears that every sport is adapting to meet the needs of their players, as well as serve the team as a whole, making sure that athletes get the rest they need while also allotting sufficient practice time prior to the start of the spring season.
Though she was speaking specifically of her volleyball players, McGolpin made an important point for all athletics when she said, “They all have a responsibility to their second family … their volleyball team at Westmont College.”
While most student athletes are able to go home for their break, even if it is cut a little short, it is a good reminder to keep the safety of those at Westmont in mind while away.