Women's basketball ready to return to court
By Kelsy Taylor
The pandemic caused major setbacks for almost everyone, including athletes. All teams had to call off their seasons, games, tournaments and more.
The Trine University women’s basketball team was in Maine getting ready to play in the NCAA DIII Sweet 16 when they received the phone call that crushed its dreams and hopes, especially those of its only senior, Katy Steers.
“I did not even have a chance to compete,” Steers said. “On the bright side, the last collegiate game that I played in, I won.”
After the tournament was canceled and the Thunder returned home, the team had many challenges to face.
The biggest challenge was not being able to work out while in quarantine. Team members from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky were at the mercy of the virus’ spread in those states, which determined what stage that state was on. Michigan was on “stage one” for a long time because the virus spread quickly and the number of cases increased daily. The majority of the team is from that state.
However, until gyms opened, everyone struggled to stay in shape in the off season. Sophomores Katie Sloneker, Sam Underhill, and Alexa Porter explained they had to work out outside, but were limited in what they could do.
“We did not have access to a full gym to lift weights, so we had to become creative and come up with home workouts,” said Sloneker.
“Gyms were not open to shoot, so we were limited to what we could do with a ball,” Herbert explained.
“I had a basketball rim in my driveway, so I was able to get up shots, but the distance was not the same as a real college basketball court,” said Underhill.
Others did not have that option, so they were limited to just focusing on ball handling.
Once back on campus, the team still faced challenges. At the beginning of the school year, players were not allowed to work out in the weight room or inside at the MTI Center.
“We had to play outside, run outside, and do workouts inside of our dorms,” said Sloneker.
As of Sept. 12, the team was allowed to work out fully inside. However, they still had the challenge of staying in their bubble, staying healthy and making smart decisions to have a season.
For the most part, team members said they have adapted to the changes on campus. Everyone is required to wear a mask in every building. If any person on the Trine campus visits a friend’s room, they are required to wear a mask in that room. If anyone feels sick in any way, they must visit the Health Center and quarantine for a few days until they feel better, even if they test negative for COVID-19.
“It’s sometimes annoying because we tend to forget our mask, but it is not a huge deal,” said Underhill. "We would rather be on campus than sent home for the semester and take all our classes online. The changes and rules were put in place for a reason, and I am glad Trine is taking the right precautions to make sure everyone is as safe as possible."
Not only is Trine taking precaution to make sure the number of cases remains as low as possible, but the NCAA is also making sure athletes are staying safe while competing with different teams. The NCAA is requiring every team to be tested, and once the season starts, to be tested weekly.
“Being tested weekly is not the most pleasant feeling, but it’s necessary to keep everyone else safe,” senior Shay Herbert explained. “The COVID testing is probably the worst 2.5 seconds of my life. It is quick and fast, but the feeling of having a stick shoved up your nose is not my favorite. I like the fact that they are making it a requirement, and just showing they care about their athletes. Most collegiate athletes come to school so that they can play the sport they love. So, we will do whatever it takes to have a season.”
With the increased chance of exposure to the virus once competition begins, players said they are a little nervous, but are reassured by the fact that everyone will be tested consistently.
“Even though everyone will be tested, we just hope that every athlete is responsible enough to tell someone when they are not feeling well and do the right thing,” said Herbert. “As a team, we are excited to even have a season and have the opportunity to play again. We have to play like there is no tomorrow, because who knows when or if our season will get canceled again.”