Fall sports return with new restrictions

Hawks are eager and excited to return to practice

Megan Julian, Sports Editor

Men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross-country, field hockey, sailing and women’s tennis have begun practicing this week in order to prepare for their competitions, now set to be held in the spring.

Back in July, all the teams’ seasons were suspended as a result of COVID-19. This decision was made by the Commonwealth Coast Conference Board of Directors in order to keep the athletes safe.

“We are all super excited to get back on the pitch and get going again,” said Connor Edwards, midfielder and senior captain of the men’s soccer team.

The teams do have to follow new rules to make sure they stay safe and healthy.

“All are required to wear masks, inside and outside,” said Athletic Director Kiki Jacobs.

“Practices are going to be very different,” said senior field hockey midfielder Emma Stevens. “We are going to split up into small groups as well on the field away from the other groups.”

Stevens said members will be working on a lot of individual skills since they cannot play contact yet.

Sarah Porter, a senior and outside hitter on the volleyball team, said their practices will consist of the team being split into two groups for the first week. The groups will be practicing at the same time but on separate courts with a curtain dividing them.

“We show up to the gym 30 minutes before our practice time in order to get our temperature checked,” Porter said. “Each group will have designated equipment, so there will be no sharing of nets or volleyballs.”

 Women’s soccer will be focusing on ball skills, fitness and developing as players.

“We plan to use the extra time this fall in our advantage, so we come back in the spring stronger, fitter and faster than previous years,” said senior Bailey Laviolette of the women’s soccer team.

Athletes across the board have been putting in a lot of effort to stay in shape.

“I’ve been trying to get a run in every day to get a solid base of training before we are able to practice as a team,” said Tyler Marchioni, a senior on the men’s cross-country team.

Captain of the women’s tennis team Heidi Martin said she was able to get some practice in.

“I played with a few girls on the team that were also living in Bristol over the summer and I came up with workout circuits to do in my backyard that were full body workouts,” Martin said.

The sailing team stayed in shape and stayed connected by tracking their fitness through an app. Since the team has returned to campus, they have been doing a lot of workouts locally.

“Since we have been back on campus, several team members bike together around Bristol and Aquidneck Island,” said Sailing Team Captain Emily Gildea.

RWU athletes are excited to be back playing alongside their teammates even if it is from a distance while wearing masks.

“We have been waiting to play together as a team since last season so it will be great to get after it again with the lads,” Edwards said.

Coming into this unique season, teams will still be facing some challenges. Porter believes the volleyball team’s biggest challenge will be attempting to normalize a season where nothing is guaranteed.

“It might be hard to stay motivated or focused when there’s so much uncertainty about competing in the spring,” Porter said.

“Our biggest challenge is going to be getting back to that same mindset we had last year. Last year, we were conference champions, and the way we got there was through our positivity and our sense of unity as a whole,” said Grace DePalma, captain of the women’s cross-country team. “A lot of that starts at preseason. Preseason is the foundation for our season as a whole and without those 10 days together, it really felt different coming into this year.”

Although this season is full of unknowns, it seems as though the Hawks are ready to take flight.

“COVID may have taken our seasons,” DePalma said. “It will not take our spirit.”