The ASU women's soccer team has set aside their once tightly packed calendars in exchange for face masks and not-so-normal practices.
Ever since the Pac-12 announced in August that all competitions would be postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams have been struggling with a lack of structure, and the ASU women's soccer team is no different.
"I have always had this consistent routine, and without that I had to make up my own," said ASU senior defender Taylor Culver.
Although there has been no official announcement regarding a spring soccer season, head coach Graham Winkworth and his team are preparing as if it will happen.
But for now, there is no season. And without a schedule to work around, practices look starkly different, Winkworth said.
“We are being dished a bunch of lemons right now and it’s important that we try and make the sweetest lemonade possible,” said Winkworth.
To start the semester, the Sun Devil soccer program is training together with new safety protocols — wearing masks and practicing social distancing — to prepare for a potential spring season.
UA's women's soccer team has not enjoyed the same fortunes.
Late last week, the Wildcat's soccer team was shut down due to false positive COVID-19 results among the players. They are expected to return to practicing together this week.
With the safety precautions in place, training sessions have been altered and not every drill is attainable. In turn, ASU's coaching staff has become more creative in the planning process by adjusting their training sessions to be centered around technical skills and tactics.
“We’re not doing any contact, which gives us an opportunity to work on our skills opposed to brute force and physicality, we are being more technical and tactical,” Culver said.
Winkworth noted that his players have responded with resilience to the changes they have had to make in training. Even when the team wasn't together last spring, players still found ways to stay in shape.
"Some players have managed to return in the best shape they've been in since being Sun Devils," Winkworth said.
Winkworth and the players said they are just happy to be back training together and doing what they do best.
“At the end of the day, it’s just another opportunity to get better,” Culver said.
Outside of soccer, players are having to adjust to their new normal. Before the pandemic, players' schedules were filled with workouts, classes, training sessions and team bonding activities. Now, ASU's players are at home taking their classes online and are not allowed to get together with the team outside of practices.
“Right now, we still get to go to practice, but the rest of the day we are in the house. Every day is a challenge," said junior midfielder Alexia Delgado. "It’s very different because you can’t go anywhere else but we are trying our best and living day by day."
As these COVID-19 related challenges continue to present themselves, ASU is adjusting to their new normal and remain hopeful that they will face opponents this upcoming spring.
"It is a great segue to what my life is going to be like in the future,” Culver said. “Navigating online school and staying fit has been weird because I have had so much structure in my life and then it was taken away."
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