During unprecedented times, leaders are looked for more than ever. With Muhlenberg allowing primarily freshmen to be on campus this semester, the women’s track and field team is fortunate to have two of their five seniors at practice to help pave the way for their newest members. Along with the upperclassmen, head coach Brad Hackett, who has been serving in this position for 20 seasons, has continued motivating the freshmen and encouraging the team to be one united force.
Coach Hackett has been doing everything he can to promote normalcy with the team members and is having the athletes on campus take advantage of the additional time with more repetitions. Jumper Lindsay Press ‘21 said, “We’ve been doing similar drills that we do in a normal season which is helping everyone for the next time we will be competing. Coach Hackett has emphasized that we use this time to not have to rush the basics which I think is a great outlook.”
As much as track and field relies on physical ability, part of it is a mental game. As of today, the Centennial Conference has yet to mention any plans on the start of a season, which leaves the team with many thoughts. Sprinter and thrower Jill Lissner ‘21 says, “For me as a senior, I could be practicing for nothing, as there may not be a season. However, our coaches have been wonderful and motivating through the tough time. They understand the stress and allow us to do what we need to do to feel our best.”
Lissner, who is currently on campus conducting biology research, explains that regardless of whether or not she gets to compete again, she is honored to be in a situation where she can influence the future of the program. “I wanted to make [the freshmen] feel welcomed on campus and like they had someone they could look up to and ask questions freely as they needed. Since I was able to get close with them, they have come to me about so many things and I am so lucky to have already forged great friendships,” Lissner said.
With a less crowded and not as active campus, there is more time to bond outside of classes and practice. “Many of the freshmen attended the team dinners that we planned. These dinners ran about two hours and often resulted with us moving to the Light Lounge to continue talking once the dining hall closed. I felt like I’ve been able to get closer with some of the freshmen this year than I had the opportunity to do in past years,” said Press.
Although Press will be graduating after the winter semester, sadly ending her Muhlenberg competitive career, she still wants to impact the freshmen while she’s here and is excited to cheer them on at future meets.
As track and field may not require an abundant amount of equipment or specific facilities like other sports might, the Mules who are not on campus have been able to keep fit and perform exercises to help replicate competition. However, many are frustrated they are not with their teammates and coaches in-person.
The team members who are home are still in the team’s weekly Zoom calls and understand how important it is to be connected with their teammates. Along with introducing themselves in Zoom calls, the team is staying in touch with one another through group chats as well as following each other on social media.
When the Mules come back together in Allentown this spring, they hope to be a force to be reckoned with once competitions eventually resume.