Pods. Phases. Bubbles. Virus testing. Social distancing. Sanitizing.
These are words and phrases that coaches and student-athletes rarely use in the course of a normal season. Of course, the 2020-21 academic year was far from normal. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of fall sports, an extremely abbreviated winter season, and a shortened spring schedule.
University athletics committed to make the health and safety of students, coaches, and fans the top priority from the moment that virus mitigation required extraordinary public health measures in March 2020. This decision necessitated that teams either abandon or reinvent practices, conditioning, coaching strategy, team building and, of course, games.
“Things we took for granted for all of these years, now we have to rethink them,” said Charles Sack, university director of athletics and recreation, in October.
As with many other new restrictions in their lives, NU student-athletes made the most of this unorthodox way of playing the sport they love. Most were simply thankful to be with their teammates as often as they could.
After almost a full year without games, Kyle Mountain, men’s ice hockey head coach, summed up the student-athlete attitude before the first 2021 match: “We're all incredibly grateful for the opportunity to compete again. Our student-athletes have worked extremely hard and remained patient through a frustrating set of circumstances.”
Throughout a long and challenging year, student-athletes have demonstrated dedication and resilience to play the sport they love as Neumann Knights.
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