By Jordyn Sava
At the College, student athletes have been faced with a different reality due to the pandemic consisting of virtual team meetings, workouts and bonding.
Some athletes dealt with injuries or financial challenges while others used their time for self-improvement, increased family time and personal projects. Either way, there’s been a lot of time to think about how the virus will impact their lives and athletic careers.
Sophomore management major Jason Larranaga was crushed when he learned he would not be able to see his teammates or workout in the gym last March.
“Working out is one of my favorite things to do, so I was disappointed when I lost access to a gym,” he said. “I did a lot of running and bodyweight training. I also eat clean and try my best to maintain a good sleep schedule.”
Laranaga’s home life was also faced with challenges as much of his family contracted the virus. He said he spent “quite a bit of time alone” where at times, it was “difficult and scary.”
Thankfully, his family beat Covid-19 with no complications, which only further motivated Larranaga to stay healthy and positive through it all.
“When you’re practicing hard every day, sometimes it’s difficult to enjoy it, especially amid a pandemic — an inherently stressful environment,” he said. “However, it is important to try to remain grateful for the opportunity to play your sport during these times. Although the world is currently a very different place from what it once was, our sports themselves are the same as they’ve always been. Staying grateful for the opportunity helped me escape to the pre-Covid world for just a little bit when I was on the court.”
For senior finance major PJ Ringel, Covid-19 has been mentally draining. He yearned to see his family, but did not want to put them in a situation where they may get sick.
“I miss being able to see and hang out with all the people in my life,” Ringel said. “I was used to seeing my mom, brother and uncle pretty much every other weekend, but I knew going home would risk transmission.”
To cope with the increased alone time, he dedicated time to focus on himself and find what makes him feel best.
“Physically I’ve actually gotten in better shape since the pandemic started,” he said. “Last season I felt I was a little overweight for my body, and I noticed I wasn’t moving on the court as well as I used to. I used quarantine to start eating better and focusing on core strength.”
To keep his mind clear and focused, Ringel focuses on a few important tips.
“It is important to be able to sometimes distance yourself from a sport for a day just to remind yourself there are other things in life that make you happy,” he said. “I love the season but it can be tolling on the mind and body, so I reach out to people who I haven’t seen since the summer and look back at pictures from good times. If the weathers nice enough I’ll even pick a day to golf or play soccer with some of my buddies from high school.”
As for Sophomore psychology major Naysean Burch, the lack of face-to-face interaction has been the most difficult.
“This past season has been different due to the availability of Packer Hall being taken away from my team,” he said. “The lack of fans and energy at our games was a very different experience, too.”
But like Ringel, Burch said that quarantine has helped him improve his body as he spent a majority of lockdown exercising.
“I realized I would rather use this time to better myself both physically and mentally instead of wasting time doing nothing,” Burch said. “Especially during quarantine, setting goals for yourself is good because it allows you to work for something. It pushed me to workout everyday.”
Whether through online exercises or getting together several times throughout the week over Zoom, the men’s basketball team found ways to do what they loved while away from the College. There were even a few days a week where they would get together to safely play basketball outside to help prepare for the next season and stay in shape.
“It’s easy to stay motivated and in shape when you surround yourself with people who want to do the same,” Ringel said. “Just appreciate the sport even when it’s kicking you in the butt. I’m also gonna thank TCNJ, the athletic department, the training staff, and my coaches for taking care of us and always making sure we had the opportunity to play.”