When Muhlenberg shut down last March, all fall athletes were left with uncertainty that their season would even be happening.
Unfortunately, on Jul. 7th, the Centennial Conference announced that all fall seasons would be cancelled, a huge blow to all fall athletes. With only freshmen and a select few upperclassmen currently on campus and no daily in-person practices or games to play, it would seem hard to build chemistry among new teammates. But the field hockey team has found a way to not only stay in shape, but to build relationships with new teammates.
One might assume that with no full squad, the team has not been practicing. However, forward Megan Webber ‘22 proves otherwise. “We actually have been practicing! Only two upperclassmen were approved for on campus,me and one other junior, so our practices consist of us two and the five freshmen,” Webber said.
“What we are allowed to do is limited, but it is good for us to get to know how the freshmen play, and help them learn some of our drills,” she added.
Even with a smaller team than usual, the group has pushed forward in the face of uncertainty. They are cultivating the future of the program by getting the freshmen familiar with a practice regiment and allowing for interaction with veterans.
For those who are not on campus, they have been using this time to try new activities and focus on their education. “We’ve all had a lot more time for ourselves and use it to focus on our schoolwork and hobbies,” said forward Rachel Richards ‘21.
“During this time I’ve been trying out different types of workouts, my favorite being boxing,” Richards added. Being at home has allowed those on the team to try something they may not have had the chance to do with such a usually packed schedule.
One of the toughest parts of not having the whole team together is being able to build that bond needed for team chemistry, “Clearly, there is no opportunity to bond on the field and build relationships that way,” said Webber.
Most of the team, like many other Muhlenberg students, are learning remotely from home. However, that has not stopped them from staying in touch.
“For my teammates who are home, we have been doing some team Zooms to talk and get to know each other,” said Webber.
Richards adds to that sentiment saying, “Our team is constantly staying in touch, through one-on-one calls with our coach and staying active on social media.”
While also dealing with the current situation, the upperclassmen have been trying to create the most important connection needed for the survival of the program. The freshmen are the future of the program, so making them feel comfortable will create success for years to come.
“Getting to know the freshmen has been great. It is unfortunate that the whole team isn’t here but I am glad that I am getting to know them and cannot wait for the rest of our team to be here to get to know them too,” she said.
This has been extremely important for the Mules as building that team chemistry will help once college fall sports are safe to resume. Instead of coming in not knowing anyone, the freshmen have been able to have that interaction with older teammates who have that experience of past seasons.
Taylor Canfield ‘24 has felt that importance. “This has clearly been a very different freshman year, but I am very grateful,” she said.
“It has been a great bonding experience for the 7 of us, but I am looking forward to playing with the whole team. I am truly lucky to be on campus this semester to experience our fall season and I am really hopeful that the whole team can return in the spring.”
Nicole Randazza ‘24 shared this sentiment. She said, “Although the campus is empty with mainly only freshmen here, Muhlenberg has been so welcoming and I am so happy to be a part of the team. I cannot wait until everyone can be back on campus and we can have a season!”
Paige Goldberg ‘24 said, “I feel as if I have been able to grow a lot from practicing in a small group setting where we all motivate and encourage one another. I am grateful that the two upperclassmen practicing with us demonstrate not only how much they want to help us improve on the field, but develop a bond off the field as well.” She has also felt the impact of having just those few upperclassmen around campus, adding, “Being a part of a team has truly been a highlight of my first semester at Muhlenberg. The entire field hockey team, including the rest of my teammates off campus, have made the transition to college much easier.”
Even with a different environment on campus, the freshmen have been able to experience a solid first semester, which will certainly go a long way for the bright future of this new group.
While being able to interact with the freshman benefits the future, the unfortunate reality is that seniors like Richards will likely not be able to have a final season.
However, she has remained optimistic and has looked to life after school. “In order to stay positive I’ve been looking towards the future and my life after Muhlenberg,” she said. “I’ve been using this time to prepare my graduate school applications and prepare for my life after graduation.”
This is a team that has tried to make this semester feel as normal as possible while also preparing for the future in the face of uncertainty.