With the 2020 Fall semester underway, the Muhlenberg women’s soccer team’s season is off to a different start. As the Coronavirus spreads across the country, the soccer team has learned to adjust their schedules in order to fit the school’s COVID-19 requirements.
Aside from navigating the pandemic, the team is learning to incorporate the new freshmen into the program while also learning how to practice under new head coach Dave Weitzman.
In his first season as head coach, Weitzman has been challenged with forming a community in times when everything is on Zoom. “Since mid-March, we have taken the approach of having Sunday evening Team Zoom meetings. Our meetings may not be in great length, but it is always nice to see familiar faces,” said Weitzman.
Weitzman has also been trying to keep a sense of familiarity for his players, hoping that these Zooms will relieve anxiety and create a sense of comfort. “We have had individual meetings to discuss how they’re doing handling academics and soccer workouts,” he said.
Learning and adjusting to this unique semester, Weitzman has grown more comfortable with being head coach. “The first thing I learned about myself is how much I miss being on the field with all the players and coaches- that comradery. Secondly, I realized how much I love leading the team and putting in all that hard work and effort in preparing for competition, then going back and fixing the flaws and building on our strengths,” he shared.
Weitzman highlights the upperclassmen and their response to a semester outside of their control. “Much of the credit goes to the upperclassmen of our team as they have been the keystone in keeping our program together during this difficult time. Overall, I have been very proud of the players and I am very fortunate to be their coach”
With only half of the freshmen on campus this semester, Weitzman has found ways to create team bonding activities while also learning the ropes on how to practice and coach a team remotely.
Lexi Sipos ‘24 has been through a challenging couple of months; starting her college career during a pandemic.
Living on campus, Sipos has adjusted to life on Zoom, especially learning the ropes of the women’s soccer team. “It has been quite a different [experience] getting to know the team, but our upperclassmen have done an amazing job at sparking team bonding,” Sipos stated. “When we met each other on the first day, we introduced ourselves and something unique about ourselves. It was so simple, but it helped us get to know each other more,” she added.
Sipos appreciates Weitzman, the rest of the coaching staff and their push to create a sense of community in a time of uncertainty. “We have weekly Sunday Zoom meetings with the team where our coaches highlight our goals and remind us of our core values. Also, we have mini-groups in our team that keep us accountable for our work ethic and staying active,” said Sipos.
Trying to keep his players active, Weitzman and the rest of the coaching staff have planned for smaller practices for the girls on campus. “These smaller practices help everyone get a feel for their style of play and coaching style. [They] give us a better understanding because when the spring season comes around, we won’t be at square one,” said Sipos.
Studying remotely, Isabel Schwartz ‘21 has been doing what she can to keep active and continue practicing soccer. “I try to play soccer on days that I am not as busy with schoolwork, so that I can continue to build on my footwork skills. Staying focused on when I can resume with soccer has also helped my mental health during this tough time,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz looks forward to the weekly Zoom calls as a way to reunite with her team and keep building relationships with the freshman.
“I hope that we will get a chance to [play] in the Spring,” said Schwartz. “I feel that my freshman teammates can make an amazing impact on our team and I hope to be able to play with them by my side for my last year at Muhlenberg,” she continued.
Lindsay Scott ‘22 believes that staying connected to her teammates has gotten her through the past couple of months. “[We] stay in contact through texting or social media, so I still feel connected to my teammates even though I miss them all a lot,” she said.
For Scott, being off campus this semester and not being able to play soccer has been hard, however, the thought of having a Spring semester is keeping her going. “My head hurts everytime I think about how we should be in the midst of a Fall season, but this makes me work even harder to make my future seasons even better,” Scott said.
As the semester comes to a close, Sipos, Weitzman and the rest of the Women’s soccer team are staying hopeful for an in-person Spring semester where they will finally be able to compete and practice together.
“I cannot stress enough how much we wish the upperclassmen and other freshmen were here. Coach has repeatedly said it is such a shame we can’t have everyone practice. He wants to have everyone here for bonding, hard work, and to have our family back together. We miss them all and want to be training with them! During these times, we are making the best of it.” Sipos stated.