WT Athletes Overcoming Pandemic
Updated: Mar 11, 2021
By: Kelsey Leseman
While attending college through a pandemic can be challenging, being a college athlete brings a whole new set of unique hurdles. From being quarantined for five months and adapting to new practice and team guidelines, some of WT’s very own athletes chimed in on how they are overcoming the struggles of competing through a global pandemic.
I spoke with Demaris Cruz, mid-field soccer player from Austin, Texas. She gave us a unique perspective on the transition to campus from a freshman’s point of view. “I didn’t know what to expect. I have to be careful where I go and what I do.” With their season postponed until the spring semester and limited amount of hours to practice throughout the week, the athletes are motivated, taking procedures seriously and hoping to have a great spring season. Cruz’s advice to other college athletes and students facing similar challenges, “Keep pushing forward, we are all in this together.”
Sophomore track and cross country runner, Gracen Key from Wellman, Texas tells us her inspiration to run for West Texas A&M University was the community and atmosphere she experienced while touring the campus. Her biggest challenge of being a college athlete through the global pandemic has been socially distancing from teammates that she would normally run closely with and bond with throughout the semester. While the season was postponed a few weeks, the team is working diligently to make sure they are ready to compete at the Lone Star Conference. Gracen enjoys running for both the track and cross country teams but explained that while track is more of an individualized sport she enjoys running and working as a team for the cross country team. Gracen is a positive and inspirational athlete on campus.
Her advice to other college athletes as well as her team is to, “Rely on your teammates and trust in the process.” When asked what the most rewarding part of running as a college athlete through a global pandemic was, team bonding was a big priority on her list. Knowing the importance of working together as one team, she expressed her gratitude for the support and encouragement the team has received from the campus and administrative staff fighting to keep the spirit and athletics alive throughout the semester.
Throughout the challenges of COVID 19, the athletes are staying motivated and honoring guidelines to promote “masking up” in order to be role models for the student body of West Texas A&M University.
Junior football quarterback, Nick Gerber from Levelland, Texas gave us some great insight on challenges the football team is facing. While his expectations of playing for fans in the new football stadium hasn’t been completely canceled, they have definitely been altered. “Social distancing has been tough.” says Gerber. Football practice looks a little different this year and WT Athletics is taking social distancing guidelines seriously to keep players on the field and fans in the stands.
Gerber states, “The biggest impact COVID has made to our practices is wearing face shields over helmets, symptom checks and testing weekly and taking ‘COVID breaks’ during practice to make sure we are safely social distancing.” His biggest challenge of being a college athlete during a global pandemic has been social distancing away from not only during practice but making safe decisions outside of practice. Gerber says he has limited his traveling to practice, weights, school and his home to maintain the safety of contact tracing and the ability to keep his team and coaching staff safe as well. His advice to his teammates during this challenging time is, “Be smart on and off the field. Take care of each other and make smart decisions outside of practice.”
All three athletes are impacted in various ways with their chosen sport, yet they all have one thing in common, the drive to make smart decisions to keep themselves and their teams safe in order to have a safe and complete season.