PLNU Athletes Adjust to Life Without a Season

Photo of Courtney Dyer. Courtesy of SmugMug via Danny Barnts.

This article is the third in a series of three, covering PLNU athletics this fall without competitions. Part one focused on how the administration and Athletic Director Ethan Hamilton adjusted; part two focused on coaches and their adjustments and part three will focus on how PLNU athletes are adjusting without sports.

Eat, class, work out, eat, class, practice, eat, homework, sleep and repeat. The life of a college athlete is a grind, and their days are marked by constant activity. When fall sports seasons were canceled and moved to spring, athletes had to adjust their schedules and habits.  

For many PLNU athletes, the greatest challenges of the past six months were staying in shape, finding ways to keep their sport-specific skills sharp and staying motivated amid the uncertainty surrounding their seasons. Hunter Loomis, junior forward on the men’s soccer team, and Courtney Dyer, junior defensive specialist for the women’s volleyball team, are two athletes who had gym access during the lockdown.

“Over the summer, my personal trainer was able to abide by COVID restrictions and remain open and was willing to help me prepare for the fall season in the event we were able to play,” Loomis said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to maintain a high level of skill training and weight training, just like any other offseason.”

“I was very thankful to get access to a gym with weights and all sorts of equipment these past few months,” Dyer said. “The access to court time was not as easy, [and] it took a few months for those to open up.”

Freshman Raquel Prado, women’s golf, currently lives in Spain and did not have gym access during a portion of the lockdown, so she got creative with her workouts. 

“While I was in quarantine, I couldn’t go to the gym, so my workouts were at home,” Prado said. Every day, I still did physical training, but I couldn’t practice golf as it is an outside sport.”

Now that some restrictions have loosened, she is back to playing golf almost every day and doing workouts sent to her from strength and conditioning coaches at PLNU. 

Loomis and Dyer both found a number of college athletes who are in a similar position and want to train together, so they have been able to continue playing soccer and volleyball, respectively. However, both conveyed the difficulty of staying motivated when they were unsure if and when the season would actually start.

“I miss playing and [I] miss being in the gym everyday with the team,” Dyer said. “I think I learned more about my mindset and where I struggle to motivate myself. It’s hard when you don’t have your teammates there to drag you out of bed for early morning weights and you only have yourself.”

Photo of Hunter Loomis courtesy of SmugMug via Danny Barnts.

“The most challenging adjustment has been to find ways to motivate myself to continue to train at the highest level [without gamedays],” Loomis said. “When you train and push yourself so that you can then take all that you have accomplished onto the field against a challenger, it helps motivate you to continue to train and get better.”

As an international freshman, Prado has to deal with several layers of uncertainty, not only having to plan and adjust to college life as an athlete, but also figuring out when she can move from Spain to San Diego and meet people face-to-face.

“Hopefully, I can be [in San Diego] by January,” Prado said. “In Spain, it is really difficult to combine studies with another activity. I didn’t want to quit practicing [golf], and I know there are many student-athletes in the U.S. who are very happy [with their choice to move].” 

With less time spent playing games and matches, athletes have been able to spend more time with family, focus on school, recover from injuries and let their bodies rest and take up new hobbies like hiking or surfing.

Nevertheless, PLNU athletes seem eager to get back in action, and despite the uncertainty, they set high standards for when they can play again.

Written By: Andrew Hansen