Athletes adapt to loss of season, competition


Titan Matt Turner of Evansville, Indiana, said he was “extremely upset” when the men’s lacrosse season came to an abrupt end after only five games last spring.

The fifth-year senior explained the disbelief and confusion he and his teammates experienced when COVID-19 hit.

“We were in limbo, and we heard rumors that we were coming back,” he said.

It never happened, but he is back this fall.

Turner tries to keep a positive attitude when thinking about how the pandemic has impacted the lives of him and his teammates.

“It taught us to stop wasting our moments, and to stop taking workouts for granted,” he said.

With the new semester, he is glad to have access to the training room and other resources at Calihan Hall.

“The team feels like we have a lot to prove this season,” he said. “In the meantime, the team’s goal is to keep developing our culture and keep having fun with each other and make the most of this experience.”

The Horizon League has cancelled the fall sports season, but Turner is hopeful the spring season will go as scheduled.

The players just need to “be smart and not be fools, because school and lacrosse is what is most important right now,” he said.

All teams are prohibited from receiving instruction from their coaches until at least Sept. 21.

Sophomores Kara Wolfbauer and Olivia Warrington are members of the Titan softball team.

Softball has been hit double time by the pandemic.

Because the sport has two seasons (one in spring and one in fall), softball players across the country have been experiencing serious withdrawal.

Warrington of Clarkston described cancellation of the fall season as “necessary.”

“I’m sad,” she said, “but it’s the best move – to make sure we get things back in order.”

Wolfbauer of St. Clair Shores agreed.

“As athletes it’s extremely important that we put our health before the game,” she said.

Warrington said that concerns include players being in the dugout together, as well as interaction on the field, such as tagging out opposing players.

Wolfbauer added that spitting is common on the softball field, meaning there could be plenty of droplets in the air and when runners slide.

Not a great combination.

She believes that that the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have reinforced that some things are “so much bigger than softball.”

Freshmen soccer players David Martin of Keego Harbor and Luke Winters of Canton are feeling the effects of the pandemic tenfold.

Martin said he is disappointed about the postponement of the soccer season.

“We can’t really be mad,” he said. “We’re just disappointed.”

Soccer is important to him and his teammates.

“It feels like were missing something in our lives,” he said.

Winters seconded the thought.

“It’s like a missing piece to the puzzle,” he said.

The team is allowed three limited lifts a week.

Masks are mandated for every team operating inside Calihan as well as outdoors.

“Practicing with masks makes it a whole lot harder but we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get back to playing,” said Martin.

The team has cancelled all of its captain practices, but each member is committed to getting in shape on his own.

Carlie Castiglione, junior goalkeeper of the women’s soccer team, has been affected by the pandemic in more ways than one.

When she is not busy being a student-athlete, she works in the healthcare industry.

“I got a first-hand experience being a frontline worker and a student-athlete,” she said. “I completely understand why our season is delayed, and I do support it although it is not ideal.”

Castiglione has decided to commute to campus for classes and workouts this year, which has been a lot harder, she said.

But she is taking a glass-half-full approach.

“COVID will obviously be part of our lives for a while now, and that comes with change,” she said. “At the end of the day, I can’t change it, so I have made peace with all the changes to school and sports.”