Whitworth Sports: Persistence in the Face of a Pandemic

by Ethan Paxton | Sports Writer

 COVID-19 has impacted the lives and routines of nearly everyone on the planet. Many have done their best to distract themselves, but the virus has impeded even forms of distraction, as it now stands in the way of sports.

 Here at Whitworth, Nick Beck, a member of the men’s swim team, expressed his frustration. “We had to cancel team events and practice in separate groups with our masks on,” an element which he felt inhibited the ability to build camaraderie.

 His hope for the season is that, despite the disruption and delay that COVID-19 has caused, Whitworth can still have “good and honest competition with the other schools.”

 Nick is not the only athlete grappling with the current precautions that have been set in place. Luke Bruno, a junior member of the baseball team, is frustrated with the daily health survey required in order to be allowed on campus. Given the range of symptoms that could potentially be indicators of the COVID-19 virus, he is concerned that the questionnaire inspires panic rather than security, saying, “I’m not sure if the prize is worth the price.”

 He also offered some positive remarks, acknowledging, “We’re in a unique situation, and I think we’re handling it well.”

 Despite missing team bonding and the opportunity to welcome new incomers to the program, Luke stressed that the baseball team feels the “responsibility to keep each other safe.”

 Several different players on different teams stressed the sense of camaraderie lost due to precautions. Nate Rapue, a kicker on the Whitworth football team, said, “Our mindset this year is ‘Together,’ because we have to work to stay together even in the midst of Covid-19 and not being allowed to be together in person.”

 Concerning connection with new recruits, he said, “Last year I knew all the freshman within two weeks, but it’s been like four and I know probably seven out of 50 of them.”

 Besides interactions with his workout and position groups, opportunities to forge bonds with the rest of the team are limited. Though the football season was moved to the spring and is likely to be cut in half, Nate expressed a lot of gratitude just to have the opportunity to play in whatever respect possible.

 Frustrations aside, many Whitworth athletes were able to see the bright side of the current circumstances. Jaxsen Sweum, another member of the Whitworth baseball team, said that COVID-19 has been “the perfect opportunity to take a step back from each athlete’s respective sports and focus on what really matters like relationships, team missions, and family. “It’s good to separate from it, and it’s good to have a bit of time to refresh our perspectives.”

 Junior softball player Makenzie Sherrill gave perhaps the best summation of the current climate. “It’s the same game, but things like when to put on a mask and being aware when not to get too close to people are new aspects that have changed things,” she said.

 Sherrill and the softball team are intent on “practicing like they will”, even though their season remains uncertain. With a lot of new players this year, she said that they are in the process of bonding, although it is “hard to not run up and hug the girls.”

 Makenzie concluded by saying, “There is a lot of pretending that everything is back to normal.” The feeling is shared by many not only here on campus, but in this country. As for Whitworth, the community here is adapting to the change, and sometimes, clinging to the little blessings is the best path to take. Whitworth looks forward to the return of all of its sports teams, keeping their health and well-being in its prayers.