According to Dayna Charbonneau, the director of clinical and sport psychology with WVU Athletics, this season is a grieving process for many student-athletes.
“When we talk about mindsets, a lot of them are going through grieving processes,” Charbonneau said.
By now, most are aware of the implications COVID-19 has had on sports in 2020. This difficult time has completely changed the lives of student-athletes as they are forced to accept a new reality filled with uncertainty.
“I miss being in the same room with them,” said Madison Lindung, a sophomore rower, of her teammates due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Team relationships have changed with larger roster sports, such as rowing and baseball, as the student-athletes are no longer able to bond in a group setting.
“The fact that we all can't get together has definitely affected team camaraderie,” said Tyler Doanes, a senior infielder on the baseball team.
On the other hand, the women's track and field team has a far smaller roster than most sports on campus and are able to practice as a team while still complying with social distancing policies.
Michaela Rose, a sophmore runner, noted that the relationships among the track team has strengthened since the pandemic.
“We were so excited to see each other and be back together,” she said.
Also, academic responsibilities being mostly virtual has caused many student-athletes to find new routines that work around their practice schedules. Their days are no longer planned out around going to class and practice.
Nicholas Manno, a junior defender on the men's soccer team, has concerns over online classes.
“It's just tough having to check the syllabus everyday... It always seems like there's something missing,” he said.
Doanes also expressed frustrations with online classes.
“It's even hard just to get out of bed some days,” he said.
Charbonneau said COVID-19 has greatly affected the emotional stability of student athletes, too.
She said that as many student-athletes lost a season and had to restructure their lives, a strategy to work through these emotions was to treat it as experiencing a loss, as the change in seasons was very emotional for many.
Charbonneau also said there was a struggle with normalizing the new reality and trying to stay hopeful for the future, despite it still being unknown. As these student-athletes are still coping with the abundance of changes and setbacks, Charbonneau and other athlete support systems are doing their best to keep the athletes motivated.
“There's still a lot of unknowns and uncertainties, so athletes are constantly having to navigate how to bring themselves back to the present,” Charbonneau said.
The men’s soccer team was meant to have its season this fall as usual until COVID-19 forced its cancellation. Now, the team plans to hold the season in the spring semester, as does baseball, track and field, and rowing.
Manno said the offseason training in the fall has been a difficult transition because they had already begun training the semester prior.
“It’s hard because we did all this in the spring,” he said.
Having to flip their training seasons has put both a physical and mental strain on the student-athletes.
Baseball also finds itself in a difficult situation, with its 62-game season being cut to only 16 last spring.
Nevertheless, many student-athletes have expressed how their coaches and staff have aided in making the transition successful. As they get tested for COVID-19 biweekly and have strict rules regarding what they can and cannot do on their off days, none of these teams have had problems with an outbreak.
“Everyone on the team has been really smart,” Manno said.