I will never forget the experience of sitting in our team room at the Eccles Tennis Center next to my teammates with a bad feeling in my stomach. Our coach came in and right away we knew our season was over. The Pac-12 called it. Covid-19 cancelled our season. We couldn’t wrap our heads around what had just happened. The disbelief. All of our hard work and preparation was thrown out the window. It was crazy to think a few days prior we were in Washington starting our Pac-12 play and in a blink of an eye, it was all over. How in a span of five days did we go from competing and getting ready to make and break school records to just stopping?
Fast forward six months to taking Covid-19 tests, temperature checks, working out in masks, daily surveys that logged any potential symptoms and reporting where we had been in the last 24 hours. We were also told new information daily, so nothing was ever set in stone. We begin to wonder what we are training for. This is our new normal.
College athletics are a big part of the college experience for students, especially the student-athletes. Student-athletes work day in and day out for the chance to compete against other schools, represent the University and to do all this in front of fans and spectators. Since athletics has been postponed for the moment or at least shortened, this experience is being limited.
College athletics also provides athletes with the chance to continue to pursue their sport. Some athletes use it as a building block before going to play professionally. Without a Fall season, athletes are robbed of an opportunity to demonstrate their talents and compete for the chance to pursue their dreams of going to the next level. Whether they are looking to make the NFL, NBA or the NWSL draft, not playing a fall season puts plans and opportunities on hold.
As a student-athlete, I want to play. I have dreamt of the day when I can step out onto the tennis court, compete against a Pac-12 team such as UCLA or USC, and hear the home fans cheering us on as we represent the University. I want to show everyone the hard work and dedication I have put into my game and most importantly help my team win.
As student-athletes, we chose to pursue athletics while maintaining school, work and jobs. Continuing to play during the pandemic may be risky, but athletes are used to taking risks and having to play through adversity. This is just another test that athletes have to persevere and overcome. It presents a new challenge of who, in the midst of chaos, can focus and still get the job done when they are needed. It is what we came to do when we committed to representing the University of Utah.