Uncharted territory | Women’s Soccer

Uncharted territory | Women’s Soccer

Covid-19 took its toll on society since the deadly virus started to spread in March of 2020.

The after-effects of the virus hit college athletes in multiple ways.

The Charlotte women’s soccer team disclosed how the last two years of Covid impacted them mentally and physically. The reintroduction of past safety regulations took a toll on them as athletes and as a team.

With a team full of young players who have only experienced college soccer through the lens of the pandemic, the light at the end of the tunnel was visible this year. This season, there were 10 non-conference games compared to last season’s two. In addition, only nine games were played during last year’s regular season, whereas the team will play 15 this regular season.

“It was definitely hard for my mental health. Soccer is an outlet, and something that you look forward to is getting to play a sport that you enjoy,” said fourth-year Michaella Arteta. “Nothing is consistent. It’s taken consistency away. You don’t know what’s next. We haven’t had the same starting lineup more than two times this year.”

The team experienced a breakout early on in the season, which led to a lot of uncertainty. For example, Arteta said there was a game where only 16 members were able to dress out, leaving only four subs and a lot of tired legs.

The pandemic stunted progression for some through the lack of social exposure. Peer training and guidance were cut out, leading athletes to focus solely on their personal training. First-year Macey Bader said,

“Covid definitely took a toll on my progression. I had no (club) practices, no games, no help from coaches. I was lucky enough to have my dad over the break, who is a professional soccer coach, so I had more resources accessible, but it really is just so hard to replicate the game. If you’re not playing soccer, you’re not game-fit, you’re not sharp, and you’re not improving under pressure.”

Second-year Lily Suyao experienced her first year at Charlotte in the thick of Covid. With classes being online, training and games being irregular and team bonding taking a hit, the loss of socialization impacted their mental health.

“I really struggled last year. Not even with school, but with the social component being gone,” said Suyao. “We weren’t allowed to do anything, and if we did, we had the possibility of our team being shut down, which happened once.”

Fortunately, with things looking up this year, the team has been able to bond more. Games, practices and training have all been regularly attended, and the opportunity to hang out with teammates outside of the game has opened up. In addition, simple things such as sharing meals with teammates are something that was reintroduced, much to the player’s enjoyment.

“I feel like this year we’re able to do more stuff as a team together,” said Suyao. “When we are going on away trips, we’ll go get ice cream after, or we’ll be able to eat together in the locker room, which is nice. Last year we just would have to take it and go, and we had to be in and out of the locker room in 15 minutes. It’s been great being able to sit down at meals and eat together.”

Bader added on the positives of fully bonding with her teammates this year as a freshman.

“Getting to be in the locker room, hanging out and bonding, and being able to hug my teammates brings me so much joy,” said Bader. “My favorite thing we have done as a team would be dip night. Everybody made a dip, we hung out and just ate good food. It was a really fun night, and I loved getting to talk to people I don’t normally hang out with.”

The Charlotte Women’s soccer team is enjoying somewhat of a normal season during these unpredictable times and is making the most of it through the support of their coaches and teammates. The team is currently 7-5-3 on the season as they look to capitalize on their last conference game during the regular season. After that, they will head into Conference USA Championships starting on Nov. 1.

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