By Lauren Zedlar
Elm Staff Writer
Almost every Washington College athletic team has had the opportunity to begin small group practices for players living in Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties this fall semester. All practices have been altered to fit guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the College to protect against COVID-19.
There are strict rules athletes and coaches have to follow to be able to practice, including wearing masks unless in gameplay, keeping up with the Emocha app which tracks COVID-19 symptoms, social distancing on sidelines, and limiting the number of players participating in practices.
Both of the WC men’s and women’s soccer teams have been practicing a few times a week to prepare for whatever the spring semester might entail.
Because of health regulations put in place, only five players are allowed to practice at a time, even though more players live in Chestertown. This has forced teams to work primarily on individual skills and some small group play.
“Practices have been going well, the players are happy to be back on the field doing what they love,” Head Coach of the WC women’s soccer team Tom Reilly said. “We have worked on individual technique and small group combination play.”
According to Reilly, their team was extremely lucky to have one of their goalkeepers, junior Noah Smith, living in Chestertown because it allows them to “work a lot on finishing goals.”
The team has been able to practice both offense and defense even in small groups with a goalkeeper at the practice.
“It’s not perfect, but after being unable to practice at all, we will work with what we have and are happy to do it,” Reilly said.
For the spring semester, the women’s soccer team’s goal is to have every member of the team either living on campus, or in town, in order to run fuller practices.
“It is our hope that after a period of 4 or 5 weeks we will be able to compete against other programs,” Reilly said.
The WC men’s soccer team has also resumed practice in small groups a few times a week. They have also decided to focus on improving individual skills and developing small group tactical ideas.
The small group practices have changed the structure of their practice entirely. Without the whole team present, Head Coach Roy Dunshee has shifted his practice goals and focuses for the team.
Instead of working on and teaching large group tactical ideas, the team now focuses on improving the qualities of each individual player. They have also been trying to improve their soccer IQ and decision-making skills on the field.
“Practice is definitely different than last year. We have a lot less numbers, which isn’t ideal, but we are just happy to have some form of official training,” sophomore WC men’s soccer player Ben Strine said. “We are looking forward to getting our whole team back together in the spring.”
“The players have been working out on their own and have shown great fitness and mental sharpness considering the long off season,” Dunshee said.
Regarding the spring semester, Dunshee feels assured that practice will be able to resume more regularly, and potentially with the entire team.
“Hopefully, in the spring the pandemic will be more under control and we will be able to compete against some quality teams, so I can feel like my senior year of soccer was not totally wasted,” senior WC men’s soccer player Zachary Urbanski said.
Whether sports will be able to resume regularly and compete is still undecided by the Centennial Conference, but the soccer staff and athletes are hopeful.
Featured Photo caption: WC men’s soccer players practicing. Photo by Marah Vain Callahan.