By Zachary Kraft
2020 has been a challenging year for everybody. No one could foresee everything that we would have to go through not only as a society, but also in the Lasell community. Obviously, Lasell's athletics programs are not in full swing due to the pandemic.
However, the athletics teams are still finding effective ways to continue operations under the new guidelines. A prime example of this is Lasell's field hockey team, led by Head Coach Cait Connolly. The field hockey team has student-athletes both on and off campus this season, and they were happy to share their experience during this past season.
"It was a challenging season overall," Coach Connolly said. "We didn't have access to our locker rooms, we would only practice three times a week as opposed to our usual six days, and practice had to be split into pods of 10. We could do small scrimmages, but overall, it was definitely hard to not be full swing."
Like any operation, sports teams are ones that thrive when there is a family-feeling atmosphere, and a well-organized schedule. Teams need to undergo a scouting process where they recruit and interview high school seniors in order to replace the seniors that will be graduating. The field hockey team did everything they could to maintain this.
"A lot of high schools have spectator restrictions," Coach Connolly said. "Some schools post their games online, which helps with the scouting aspect. Thankfully, players can still visit the campus, and we can get to know them personally in that atmosphere. There aren't any more overnight visits, which is unfortunate, but we've still gotten to know a lot of enticing recruits."
One could imagine how stressful it must've been on the freshmen who were just joining the team this season. Rookies benefit significantly from bonding with their teammates, and being able to observe how the more experienced players have molded their craft on the collegiate level can be greatly beneficial. Due to the pandemic and the restrictions on the number of players during a practice, building this chemistry would undoubtedly be different this season.
"It's been challenging, it took the team longer to get to know each other," said Coach Connolly. "We're following the guidelines, but most teams will go out and do activities together outside of practice; things we haven't been able to do given the circumstances. Things started to get better once we were able to be out on the field scrimmaging especially. Despite having a different operation that can be frustrating at times, practice has kept morale up. We hope that the spring season allows us more privileges we had before, and most importantly everyone stays happy."
In addition to the strenuous circumstances, the team also had to navigate through having both on and off-campus players. Grace Marc-Aurele, a sophomore midfielder for the Lasers, is currently living on campus and partook in the team's activities during the Covid-struck season.
"Unfortunately, due to the restrictions during practice, we can't do the same drills we normally would do," said Marc-Aurele. "We got to sharpen our stick skills and technique significantly. The slower pace allowed us to focus more on our fundamentals; so, there was some good from the situation."
Like any challenge, positives and negatives will come about. Despite the restrictions from the Covid-19 virus, the team was able to continue to progress and continue building that family-type bond any team strives for.
"I think we'll be better. The challenge brought everyone together in a unique way," said Marc-Aurele. "Being able to make the best out of the situation made us stronger. It took a bit longer, but we got there and we can hopefully look forward to having a full spring season."
The field hockey team at Lasell has been largely successful in prior seasons. They've had three consecutive runner-up appearances in the GNAC tournament since 2017, along with a semifinal's appearance in 2016. Most recently, they went 10-10 last season, along with a 5-3 GNAC record.
The pandemic has been challenging on everyone as individuals. One could only imagine how stressful it must be to balance everyone's individual needs and maintain a successful team simultaneously. However, the Lasers' field hockey team appears to be on track of achieving a successful balance in an unbalanced atmosphere. Hopefully, the extra time for introspect and reflection as a team will lead to continued success on the field once the pandemic comes to a halt.
(Zachary Kraft is a senior Communications major at Lasell with an emphasis on Public Relations and Sports Writing, and an intern in the Athetic Communications Office)