Athletics In the Absence of Competition: What Makes CHCA So Strong
Susan Easterday ‘18
When classes moved to remote learning, the spring athletic season had only just begun. New and returning Eagles on the lacrosse, track and field, baseball, softball, and men’s tennis teams were looking forward to strong seasons, only to find out that they would no longer be able to compete, a particularly tough blow to seniors. Many out-of-season sports were also affected, as they were unsure how to move forward with offseason conditioning. Thankfully, Eagle Nation was able to quickly pivot and find creative ways to move athletics remote.
Director of Sports Performance Adam Atallah plays a crucial role in training athletes for all CHCA sports, and he has been able to continue this instruction remotely. The Athletics office invested in the TeamBuildr app where Atallah can post daily training videos in areas such as speed, power, mobility, strength, yoga, and more. Further, Atallah distributed over 250 exercise bands to athletes before in-person instruction ended, and for those without equipment, he has taught creative ways to replace equipment, from paint cans to hills. These exercises are not limited to student athletes, but are available to all members of EagleNation, such as parents, teachers, and alumni.
Coaches have also been keeping their teams united and motivated. Men’s Lacrosse coach Mark Lynch provides videos teaching drills and technical skills made both by CHCA coaches and lacrosse professionals on the First Class Lacrosse website. He has also made it clear to the team that their season is not over yet; he plans for them to attend the Ohio State Men’s Lacrosse camp over the summer and have a mini season against other teams starting in July. The Track and Field team has also set up virtual meets for their runners to compete against other schools. The Women’s Volleyball team conducts their regular Tuesday/Thursday workouts together on Zoom, and coach Lisa Schaad has even joined to encourage them in real time. According to junior Rylie Wichmann, “I think I have still gotten stronger. I don’t think we are being set back at all because we have all found creative ways to do the same things.”
However, physical strength and technical ability have not been the primary focus of the Athletic department as the seasons move remote. According to Atallah, the number one priority is the individual wellbeing of their athletes, from mental health, to faith, to nutrition, to sleep. Coaches regularly make time to individually check in on their athletes, and many teams have also organized regular “virtual locker room” sessions where they share devotionals and words of encouragement to stay connected as a team. Further, many athletes have taken initiative to encourage each other and hold each other accountable in their team group chats, sending Bible verses and reminding each other to eat healthy and drink enough water. This aligns with the Athletic Department’s 360° Armor program which encourages focus on not just physical prowess, but the spirit, mind, and body together to prepare athletes for a life of resiliency.
While it is not what they expected, many members of Eagle Nation have found that this season has had many positive impacts, teaching them the values of resilience and accountability. According to Coach Lynch, “A mental approach to sports is valuable and can be applied in many areas. Winning is great, but the lessons you learn about dealing with adversity and perseverance will benefit you anywhere in life.” CHCA students have learned to move forward during hard times and put in the work when no one is watching, which will help them emerge as strong leaders in future sports seasons and throughout their lives.
However, while coaches have done a remarkable job of replicating workouts and team bonding, athletes and coaches unanimously agree that they miss being together in person. According to Atallah, “More than anything, people miss the camaraderie and energy. They want to give each other a high five and a pat on the back and celebrate one another in person. The physical, present interaction makes a world of a difference.” Moving forward, Eagles agree that they will never take their time together for granted and are eager for in-person athletics to resume.
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