COVID-19: An Athlete’s Perspective

Picture this.

You are standing on the start line of the track, toeing the line nervously - butterflies tumbling in your stomach. Or you just have finished your race, crossed the finish line, stepped off the track - legs a little shaky and feeling like Jello.

I never thought that these feelings would be something that I would grow to love, but that is exactly what happened six years ago when I joined the track team at my high school.

Track was never something I intended to love – it was to be a means to an end of staying in shape for my main sport, soccer. But somehow the five-day-a-week running schedule – six, if you count long runs (which I will admit, I didn’t always back then) quickly became my routine. Two workouts, two easy runs, one body circuit. Six-minute ab workouts that somehow never seemed to last the entire season. I was part of the distance team, which meant running outside every day, even in the winter, in the rain, in the snow. Most people found that concept incomprehensible, asking me why I would want to put myself through that.

The answer to that lay in the people I ran with. Those distance girls were my training partners – people I ran with for all four years of high school. At least ten hours a week were spent with these girls and they played a big role in shaping who I was when I entered college as a D3 runner as well. College brought about a whole new team that I found myself spending every waking minute with. Classes, meals, practice, homework, weekends – you name it, I would be with at least one other runner on my team. My college track team – in the short two years I have been on the team – has given me some of the best people I have ever met in my life. The best friends, roommates, boyfriend, teammates I ever could have asked for – my second family.

I never thought those two months of track season would be taken away from me, but that is exactly what happened 25 days ago when we found out, not only that our season would be canceled, but that we would be forced to leave our best friends, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If someone had told me any number of days, weeks, months, years ago that I would be living in a time like this, I quite frankly do not think I would have believed them. I am sure that there are huge quantities of people who can agree with me. And I also can tell you that there are a huge number of athletes who feel just the same as I do.

Seasons canceled. Chances to win championships set personal bests, beat school records and rivals – lost. For Babson College track, that meant nine weeks of preseason spiraling right down the drain, unable to show off all of the hard work we put into those weeks. For some, it meant waiting another full year for the chance to compete again. For freshmen, it meant another year until getting the chance to show their new team what they are made of. For seniors, it meant last year was their last chance to accomplish their goals – and they never even knew it.

The past few weeks have brought about a whirlwind of emotions in my mind, and I do not think that all people are counting a canceled season as a justifiable reason to be upset, from my perspective scrolling through social media. I do count myself extremely fortunate that this is my biggest source of grief today – the loss of a season instead of the loss of a safe place, my health, or a loved one from this pandemic. However, I do think the world needs to be able to acknowledge everyone’s grief as something that matters. It affects everyone, no matter how seemingly ‘trivial’ it is. The instant I walked into my house upon packing up my dorm room and leaving all of my friends and memories behind at school, I burst out crying to my mom – and that would have been the fourth time that day, by three o’clock in the afternoon, that it had happened. Choking up on tears cleaning out our locker room, thinking about races that would be missed, saying goodbye to seniors who I was not sure about when I would see them again.

I never thought this would be my current situation. Nonetheless, it is.

So this is my call-to-action to all of the athletes out there – better yourself over these next few months, so we can show the world what the world never gave us the chance to show.

Article by Amanda Karch

The views expressed herein are attributed to their authors and not to this publication nor Babson College. The materials appearing in this publication are for information purposes only.