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

As student-athletes, we develop skills and learn lessons that we can use both on and off the court. For me, there are four that immediately come to mind: discipline, leadership, hard work and teamwork.

COVID-19 has presented our society with unprecedented challenges that we’re still attempting to navigate, and this has undoubtedly extended to student-athletes. While I know student-athletes were initially and still may be upset over the loss of our seasons, I have been amazed by the efforts and abilities of many of us across the country attempting to make the best of this new normal.

When I think of why that’s happened, why we’ve adapted so well to an environment no one was ready for, I keep coming back to those four things: discipline, leadership, hard work and teamwork.

Discipline is defined as to train or develop by instruction and exercise, especially in self-control.

COVID-19 has forced student-athletes to exercise discipline now more than ever. External training is inhibited due to the overwhelming potential to catch and spread the virus, in addition to the stay-at-home orders that many of us are facing. Adhering to safe practices when student-athletes would love nothing more than to train with their teammates and coaches on-campus is a heavy sacrifice but one we understand we must make. As difficult as this may be, student-athletes possess the discipline to accept and adapt to these changes.

As for leadership, I believe true character is revealed in times of adversity.

In this unprecedented time, we look to leaders for guidance and a voice as we face many unknowns. It is impossible to count the number of student-athletes whom I have seen step up as true campus leaders over the course of this pandemic. Student-Athlete Advisory Committees have been more active than ever and have led the charge in engaging student-athletes.

As I recently watched and participated in a very successful DIII Week, I couldn’t be prouder of the way student-athletes have embraced their new setting and interacted with one another. The reminders from student-athletes that we love each other, we are here for one another and we will make it through this exemplify the leadership qualities that student-athletes develop during their times on campus.

Speaking of campus, I think student-athletes all would also agree that there is a direct positive correlation between hard work and success, both in and out of the classroom.

I also believe that as COVID-19 has drastically changed academics, student-athletes are developing an appreciation for in-person classes and events. As a result, I expect that student-athletes will return to campus, whenever it may be, with an even greater commitment to hard work than what we’ve already seen.

In the same breath, perhaps the greatest lesson that we learn as student-athletes is what it truly means to be a part of a team. This lesson is magnified under the current world circumstances.

Right now, as a collection of almost 500,000 Division I, II and III student-athletes, we are all a part of one team. We understand that we cannot make it through this pandemic without the support of one another. We understand what love and communication mean during this difficult time, and we get the importance of putting our teammates before ourselves right now.

It will take discipline, leadership and hard work to remain the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be, but as student-athletes who inherently refuse to let our teammates down, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that our commitment to one another will overcome any obstacles we face over the course of this pandemic.

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