Whitman athletes reflect on unique season

Hailey Livingston, Sports Reporter

Whitman varsity athletics are embracing the new reforms and changes brought about by the new COVID-19 guidelines.

When Whitman announced that the fall semester would be online, athletes and coaches prepared to start their seasons in the spring. Junior Adam Reid, a member of the men’s soccer team, has noticed the effects that the delayed season has had on the capabilities of the team.

“We are playing in the spring semester. We have never done that before. This means when it snowed, we had to train inside, and that made things difficult for the team,” Reid said.

While the weather has presented its fair share of difficulties, there have also been many problems arising from the use of indoor facilities.

“We have had games canceled because other teams had cases, and we are not allowed to use the facilities in the way we normally would because of COVID-19 concerns,” Reid said.

Junior Emma Anderson from the women’s volleyball team has felt the difficulty of cancellations as well.

“Having our first game canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak… and the second due to weather caused some dissatisfaction on the team,” Anderson said.

While having multiple games canceled may be disheartening, these athletes still feel fortunate to have a season at all. Not all teams have been as lucky. First year lacrosse player Lucy Magruder has yet to have a chance to play with her team and has been thrown into a completely new varsity experience.

“Practice is very weird because we all have to wear masks, and it kind of slows us down while practicing,” Magruder said.

Masks have proven to be quite tricky for athletes, but some are seeing some additional benefits to them.

“The masks are definitely hard to breathe in for conditioning and training,” Anderson said. “I believe maybe they condition our bodies.”

Men’s Baseball Head Coach Brian Kitamura has experienced the necessary adjustments first-hand for both the men’s baseball team and the women’s lacrosse team.

Kitamura emphasized the importance of making sure athletes arrived on campus as safe as possible. For the first two weeks, athletes were only allowed to practice with their housemates or roommates to avoid exposure to the virus. Coaches made themselves more available to their athletes and, in some cases, ran multiple practices a day.

Baseball has been fortunate enough to travel and compete this season. While the games may look familiar, athletic departments have made adjustments to ensure that players are exposed to the least amount of people possible.

While athletes can’t play games over Zoom, technology has helped recreate the team dynamic that attracts many people to sports.

“A lot of things are shifted to Zoom to make sure we can keep our distance… when we arrive at the hotel tonight, we’ll all hop on Zoom from our rooms… instead of us meeting in the hotel lobby,” Kitamura said.

For coaches, creating a bond within a team while social distancing is a challenge that they have had to overcome. Kitamura has done trivia nights and virtual team dinners with both teams to bring players together.

Despite the speed bumps placed in front of athletes this semester, coaches and players remain optimistic about their seasons.

“I’m super proud of all of our student-athletes… they’ve done a great job and have the best faith effort to do things right,” Kitamura said.

The Athletics Department has made it possible to virtually watch student-athletes compete throughout the season.