After being an athlete for seven years, there are many things that I’m used to. I’m used to structure. I’m used to community. I’m used to having my own facilities. I’m used to having easy access to things I need. I’m used to training for championships. What I’m not used to is a pandemic putting my track career on hold.
This time last year, my coach was preparing my team to win a national title. She made it clear that everything we do must be geared towards that goal. How we sleep, how we eat, how we think and how we train. All these things and more had to be our top priority in order to become national champions. We internalized what she said and set out on that mission. Several weeks before the big day, we were ranked number one. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish the job. And now this year, it’s possible we won’t have a job to finish.
It’s hard to stay motivated when everything you’re used to disintegrates around you. People know that I’m always pushing for greater things and trying to instill as much confidence and motivation as I can in others. I pride myself on the positivity I can bring. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a struggle to keep that up.
In a world of ifs and possibilities, it’s important to find things that can ground you. For me, it’s focusing on my problem areas, like my acceleration phase or block starts. I had a relatively great season this past year, but there’s still so much to improve on. By focusing on my problem areas, I can continue to make practice interesting and fun, since there’s always something to learn. This helps since I’m usually practicing alone or with very few people, something that feels foreign since I’m usually around 60 other girls. It also lets me rest knowing that if I can continue to perfect these areas, I’ll be able to perform how I want whenever the time comes.
I often wonder when that time will be. There is so much uncertainty and inconsistency with how sports are being handled across the country. The NCAA could decide to cancel everyone’s season. They could decide to keep the seasons, but Ithaca may opt to stay remote again for the spring semester. Ithaca and the NCAA could allow seasons but the Liberty League, the athletic conference Ithaca College participates in, can choose to say no. With all the scenarios, there isn’t one person who can answer the question of, “When?”
So I’ve decided to stop asking when I may be able to compete again and instead focus on what I have in front of me. While the uncertainty has given me more stress than I need, it’s also given me an opportunity. At home, I’ve gotten two opportunities to get more work experience, something I’ve been struggling to do since I started college because of sports. It’s also given me the chance to really focus on what I need from myself athletically and academically. I believe I’ve developed a certain level of focus in regard to my sport that will be extremely helpful when things return to normal. Until then, I’ll continue to work on myself, praying that the next time I can hear the gun go off will be one day soon.