The New Normal How COVID-19 is impacting life on and off campus for NCAA members

Strong. Courageous. Decisive. Determined. Resilient.

These are the words that people have always used to describe us. As student-athletes, we have been trained to take adversity and hardships in stride.

School? Season? Social life? We handle those with no hesitation, carefully balancing each activity with such grace and ease. It has become second nature to us. It is just life, our life. Others never truly understand the challenges that come with our lifestyle.

Our lives have been dictated by schedules and structures, flowing from one activity to the next. We thrive in our own system: wake up, eat, work out, go to school, eat, practice, study, eat, sleep, repeat. We forget how overwhelming it can be because, for us, it has always been the normal. It is just what we do.

And then, in a span of 24 hours, starting March 12, the system changed … no, shattered.

We lived the next three days waiting, stressing, scared of what the next round of information might bring. It brought a new normal we never imagined.

Weak. Neglected. Unstable. Fearful. Hopeless.

These are the words that many of us may be describing ourselves with now. As student-athletes, we have been trained to take adversity and hardships in stride. But for this? We have no training. How do we deal with our new normal?

We went numb, in a state of shock and confusion, unable to process what was truly happening. Global panic, academic chaos, individual mayhem. As always, we threw ourselves into the task at hand, flowing from one activity to the next, as we have been trained to do. Pack your room, empty your locker, modify your learning.

Eventually, as life began to settle down, we developed small routines to cope, to help get us through the day. We study, we exercise, we socialize. We just do so differently, distantly. And suddenly, reality hit us. Realization has seeped into our bones as we fully begin to process all that has occurred.

We lost seasons, experiences, memories.

We are hurting, mentally and emotionally. As student-athletes, we know the steps for healing a physical injury; that is something easily rehabilitated. But mental and emotional trauma, we aren’t quite as sure how to heal. These are not injuries we share. These are injuries we deal with on our own.

This time has to be different. We have to share, together.

We have to reach out to one another and check in often. We have to hold each other close, no matter the distance. We have to take care of one another because we are all we have.

We are not weak; we are hurting. We are not neglected; we are separated. We are not unstable; we are dependable. We are not fearful; we are strong. We are not hopeless; we are encouraging.

Together, we can do this. We are strong. We are courageous. We are decisive. We are determined. We are resilient. Together, we are a team, a family, a nation.


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