Waynesburg fall sports remain hopeful for return in spring

Mindset adapted for fall coaches with seasons shifted to spring

By: Marley Wolf

For the Yellow Jacket

Due to COVID-19, fall sports at Waynesburg University were pushed back to the spring with the hopes of being able to play. Having an extra-long winter break is anything but the norm for these athletes who’re typically heading into break with an off-season mindset, having already completed their seasons.

Teams including football, women’s volleyball, and women’s and men’s soccer will have to rely on at-home workouts and team ‘virtual’ meetings to get through this break. 

To combat one of the major threats to players, which is staying in good shape, coaches have each planned workouts for their student-athletes to run through during the winter months. 

“We will treat winter break similar to how we manage things over the summer,” head football coach Chris Smithley said. “Players will take their workout and running programs home and do them over the holiday months.”

Smithley continued by stating how this won’t be too much of an adjustment for his team.

“This is somewhat normal for us, we are preparing for our season all summer from home and then report to training camp in August,” Smithley said. “This year we are just flipping the seasons. The challenge will be, battling the different seasons and the weather that we will have to get our work done in.”

Another crucial aspect for any team over extended breaks is maintaining a strong team bond. The women’s volleyball team, under first year head coach Emily Taylor, has a few different ways to make sure players stay close while far away.

“We have plans to do a socially distant secret Santa gift exchange where everyone sends a gift anonymously to a random teammate and then we will zoom and open them together,” Taylor said. “We are going to also do a weekly team bible study as well to stay connected and continue to grow in our faith together.”

Motivation during these times of uncertainty doesn’t seem to be a problem amongst Waynesburg student-athletes. It would be thought that players could have low motivation or be losing hope, considering seasons already got pushed back. However, thanks to the coaching staffs here, student-athletes are working hard every day intending to get back in the game soon.

“Our team has adopted a term called ‘STRHIVE,’” head men’s soccer coach Bradley Heethuis said. “It means to never settle for anything short of excellence. I think this is a great time to challenge ourselves to live up to this. Every day, whatever we are called to do, tackle it head-on and give your best. So until someone says we aren’t playing, we will continue preparing for the opportunity to get back out on the field and compete.”

The volleyball team is staying motivated for their upcoming season along with being thankful for everything they have been blessed to be able to do up to this point, considering all the circumstances. 

“I’m constantly reminding them how fortunate we are to even be on campus right now,” Taylor said. “We come into every workout and practice thankful for the opportunity to be there and that our bodies can practice and work out the way that we do. Everything is so up in the air so we try to keep our focus on the here and now and not the what-ifs.”

With highly motivated coaches and players, Waynesburg’s fall sports teams are going to tackle the long winter break with positive attitudes and encouraging workouts each day,  in hopes of returning to competition this spring.