By Emily Briggs || Staff Writer
This semester has been an odd one. COVID-19 has affected many aspects of campus life at Franklin and Marshall this year, with classes being mostly online, sophomores staying home for the fall, and campus feeling quieter and emptier than usual. But at least for athletes, some things have stayed the same. As a student-athlete and one of the captains of the F&M Rowing team, it was a relief to hear that we would still be having practice this semester, even if it’s not completely the same.
The rowing team officially started our fall season two weeks ago, and it was great to be able to practice with the team again. However, because of COVID-19 regulations, practices have to be run a little differently than usual. Teammates are required to work out in functional groups of 10 or less and must stay in those same groups for the entirety of the season (both in and out of practice). Teammates are also required to wear masks while working out, which is something I have not gotten used to yet. We also have a new workout location! We are no longer occupying the humid, dusty Woods Room in the ASFC but are now outside the ASFC on the patio in front of Shadek Stadium. Though some mornings are cold outside, the sunrises make up for it!
With all of the differences in the academic semester in addition to changes in our usual practice routine and game schedule (as we are unable to compete in any races for the fall season) I wanted to reach out to my teammates to see how they were feeling about this semester.
The first-years are no doubt having a strange first semester at F&M. I spoke to a few of our first-year rowers to see how they were feeling about starting their college career during a pandemic and how they were feeling about joining the rowing team.
One of our first years said, “It is taking some time to adjust, and has definitely been difficult to meet new people and get involved with events and things on campus.” However, she also said that she has been dreaming of college for so long and that she is very excited to be here at F&M! When asked about rowing, she said, “Even though I just started, early morning rowing practice is the event I look forward to most.”
Another first year on the team, Fiorella, said about her opinions about living on campus: “I’m constantly being told that the ‘campus isn’t usually like this’ or that ‘campus is more active and welcoming.’ Although I feel like that should be cause for panic or disappointment, I find it comforting.” Fiorella went on to say that from what she’s seen of F&M so far, it is a “pretty, open-armed campus; I’m nothing but excited to see the true F&M ambiance in the coming years.” When asked about rowing, she said she is a bit disappointed that the team can only practice on land, with a few modified water practices, but she is pleased we at least get some practice at all. “Rowing is relatively new to me, so I’m just happy to get some type of team experience, as little as it might be; not to mention Coach Brady is trying to make the best of the situation. which is great to see.”
As for head coach Brady of F&M Rowing, he offers some insights into how the team is doing from a coaching perspective. Coach Brady told us, “Across the board, F&M’s athletic department, including all of the coaches, are trying to offer our student-athletes opportunities to continue to train and develop in their respective sports despite the limitations created by COVID-19 and the inability to compete this fall. Ideally, these practices would provide rowers, and other athletes, some form of normalcy in which they can see their teammates and friends, get outside and train, and set goals for a potential competitive racing season this spring.”
Coach Brady also gives a few words of encouragement and motivation to his athletes: “Despite the challenges and uncertainties brought forward by COVID-19, we are taking it one day at a time—prioritizing the health and safety of the rowers as they take part in voluntary practices this fall. At the same time, though, our goals for the championship season in the spring haven’t changed. Our women and men want to be ready to race if we are able to return to competition in 2021.”
One of our senior captains on the team, Liz Brodie, talks about how she is feeling going into the last fall season of her collegiate rowing career. “I’m definitely happy to be back with the team (in a limited capacity) and to have that routine in my life again, but it doesn’t feel completely real either.” Liz also talked about how the new modified practices make it a bit harder to find motivation. “Getting so close to my teammates mentally (and physically) was a really important aspect of being on the team, and having that taken away is hard.” Lastly, Liz stated her goals for this season: “I want to establish a good and healthy routine for myself so that I can make progress in the sport and continue to feel motivated. I hope to walk away from the season feeling like I completed it with purpose and intention even if it was different.”
This year has definitely been a hard adjustment for everyone, but at least with F&M allowing practices to continue, there has been some form of normalcy in the lives of the student-athletes. I know for me personally, without rowing in my life I would feel like I was missing an essential part of my daily schedule. Rowing helps me stay motivated and release stress, which is especially necessary during these very stressful times. As a student-athlete, coming back to school would feel different without being able to go to practice and see my teammates. And for first-years, rowing is a great way to meet new people and to try something new! Rowing is one of the few sports on campus where you do not need any prior experience to join, which makes it a way to get involved and stay active.
The team is excited to continue our training with hopes of being able to compete sometime soon!
Junior Emily Briggs is a Staff Writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.