What is it like being a student athlete during a pandemic?


Ryan Shawley ’21 plays baseball for Chatham University against conference opponent Washington and Jefferson. Photo Credit: Ryan Shawley

Luke Paulson

No one is a stranger to the challenges that the pandemic has brought to our daily lives. Dealing with this alone is a struggle for many people, though playing a full collegiate season through it carries an even heavier weight. 

Through all aspects of every sport, athletes truly understand how much preparation goes into getting ready for a season. The process is demanding both mentally and physically. Some spring athletes at Chatham University — whose season was cancelled last year — weigh in on this year’s guidelines and protocols in order to participate this season. 

Ryan Shawley, baseball

Baseball player Ryan Shawley ’21 said the hardest part of the season is having no social interaction with teammates outside of practice. Typically, team building occurs during the season in off-field activities. 

As far as Shawley’s overall outlook on the protocols in place, he said, “It’s difficult, but I believe we’re going in the right direction.” 

Many players like Shawley are in agreement that they’ll do whatever it takes to step onto the field and play a full season. Whether teams like it or not, it’s something that they all must adhere to. Most teams have adjusted to these new norms well and are taking action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Shawley’s confident that all spring athletics can get a full season in as long as teams continue to follow the guidelines the school has in place. One objection that athletes have expressed is that tested players should be able to have more freedom once they get a negative test. Once a negative test is confirmed, as long as all other rules are followed, some students feel there should be no problem hanging out with other teammates who also tested negative. 

Brielle Rapsas ’22 plays lacrosse for Chatham University. Photo Credit: Brielle Rapsas

Brielle Rapsas, lacrosse

One student athlete in particular that’s not disrupted by these regulations is women’s lacrosse player Brielle Rapsas ’22. 

Rapsas is thankful that Chatham has these rules in place in order to keep all students safe and give each team the best chance at having a “normal” season. “I hope that we won’t have to deal with regulations too much longer, but they’re manageable until things get back to normal,” Rapsas said. 

Something that Rapsas thinks Chatham could do better is to communicate more. If the school were to lay out more clear instructions, then she believes this could help not just her but all student athletes here at Chatham. Some people are curious about what they can and cannot do on campus during the season. Once student athletes learn what is OK and what’s not, this might help their coping mechanisms and increase social life in a time where it’s needed more than ever. 

Knowing that all athletes are going through the same thing can help anyone else struggling with the guidelines that must be followed to compete. Playing a sport during this time is challenging for many reasons, though if you stick to the plan, it’s easier to believe that this season will be a success, many students feel.

For returning athletes, next academic year is something to look forward to, hoping that brighter days are ahead.