Following the cancellation of the spring sports season during the 2019-20 year, athletes found themselves with a few things: more time, an extra season of eligibility and a break from the grind. However, they also experienced a loss of their sense of direction in life. Many athletes find purpose in their rigorous schedules of morning lifts and afternoon practices. This obviously presented some challenges for Ole athletes.

Despite fall sports being cancelled, or at minimum postponed until spring, many teams are still practicing and lifting. This time around, practice is a bit different: masks, pods and inconsistent practice schedules. It’s clear that despite all the bad news, Oles are still willing to put time and effort into what they love. Brian Power, head coach of the men’s cross country and track and field teams, had some words on the subject.

“The cross country and track & field teams are adjusting to the new normal. Being able to walk down the hill, see friends and go for a run every day is a tremendous gift and the team is very aware of that,” Power said. “It is sometimes difficult when team members can’t run or workout with friends in another pod, but we are thrilled to be able to practice at all. The teams have done a tremendous job of being aware of social distancing and other protocols which has allowed a higher level of training.”

Practicing in pods and masks means different things for different sports. For instance, it’s quite difficult to participate in sports like cross country and track with a mask on. That being said, team members are still masking up at every moment they’re not running, and sometimes, even when they are.

For Grace Boswell-Healey ‘22, goalie on the women’s hockey team, adjusting to the new normal hasn’t been easy. For her team, practice has been off the ice since students returned. Once they return to the ice, practicing in pods will surely shake things up a bit. Following the cancellation of all fall games, continuing to practice is a testament to her team’s conviction.

“It’s definitely tough having to adjust to COVID. Not being able to have any games for the first semester is a huge bummer, and it’s going to really test our mental strength to keep pushing ourselves in practice despite not being able to see our development in games,”  Boswell-Healey said. “But as athletes we continuously deal with adversity, and I am so proud of how our team has really come together to support and encourage one another during these difficult times.”

Despite their pursuits being tampered with, Ole athletes are still willing to put their hearts into what they love. This reflects their passion for athletics, as well as their true interest in participation. Limited games, limited practices, limited teammates, yet unlimited Ole passion.


peper1@stolaf.edu