Mental health impacts in the athletic department during another COVID semester

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Photo by Alexandria Leland.

Rebekah Hedeen, Features Editor

The Utica College Athletic Department has gone through tremendous changes to allow players to take part in their respective sport, but that can sometimes come with a catch. 

Athletes have had to undergo a variety of different challenges, including multiple COVID-19 tests per week combined with ever-changing practice and game schedules. The postponement of sports has occurred many times causing students to exist in a state of unknown and maintain their mental and physical discipline over long periods of time. 

“Mental toughness,” Wendall Barnhouse of Global Sports Matters online said. “Those two words when applied to competitive sports serve to elevate the merely good to greatness. Athletes at the highest levels in their sports often have similar physical skills and attributes. Those who are ‘mentally tough’ win championships.”

The constant “toughness” of the athletes both on and off the field can cause mental illnesses to ensue and the individuals may or may not feel comfortable sharing, especially if they do not feel supported.

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“There was definitely a drop in my mental health from how the school handled the coronavirus,” said Madison Paydos, a junior hockey player. “I know they did everything they could to make it so we would have somewhat of a season, but it was still hard.” 

Paydos said hockey has always been a constant in her life and that not having it caused her to slip into uncharacteristic behavior such as drinking with her roommates and skipping the gym because of a loss of motivation. 

“I didn’t see a need to improve myself because I didn’t see the point, with the idea of having no season I lost that drive,” Paydos said. “Luckily in the winter and being able to play I picked myself up a bit but still it was tough.”

Paydos has hope for the next year and for the craziness of the pandemic to resolve along with the trust of the school being reinstated in its students. Paydos and Sophomore Matthew Robinson said they wished UC would give more notice if individuals needed to quarantine for any reason. 

“I would say I have been fine with all the adjustments, but going home because someone else that doesn’t live on campus tested positive is crazy,” said Robinson, who is a member of the lacrosse team. “I feel like maybe sometimes I don’t have enough time to finish an assignment because I’m too worried about completing another assignment and then my head just starts going crazy.” 

The overwhelming feelings induced by repeated quarantines can be very taxing on students in any department. With the rising cases and ever-present homework assignments, it can be much worse and mentally draining.

“I have been sent home two times for the exact same situation and I feel like it would only make sense if they reimburse everyone on campus who gets sent home because it’s not their fault someone tested positive and have to waste their time trying to find a way home, meanwhile we are paying thousands to live on campus,” Robinson. “The school also gives us a 24-hour notice to leave campus once someone tests positive which seems crazy to me.” 

UC has made many efforts to limit the spread of illness and it is evident to students. Some still wish that they were treated with more respect in terms of responsibilities rather than being treated like young students that need to be watched constantly. 

“There shouldn’t have been so many “threats” for athletes if they messed up,” Paydos said. “All athletes had to sign a contract about our actions during the season with the pandemic and if we broke any we could lose our eligibility for the season. I completely understand that it is important for us to be responsible while together, but the school should’ve built trust with us rather than threats.”


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