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College athletes return to regular training amid challenges of COVID

WED. | 10-21-20 | SPORTS

     Due to COVID-19, this year has been extremely challenging for college athletes from all over the world as they have had to experience the impact of losing their seasons. The virus caused nearly all facilities on the East Carolina University campus to be shut down to athletes during the spring and summer. Athletes were left wondering, where, how and when they could train.     

     In the fall semester of 2020, most colleges around the country including ECU reopened and allowed students to return. Yet only a few weeks later, many colleges had to send all students home except for those living off campus." One of these athletes was ECU baseball senior outfielder Christian Smallwood. Smallwood currently lives with four other ECU baseball players who chose to remain in Greenville during quarantine.

     “My teammates and I have spent a lot of time studying, playing golf, and watching sports,” Smallwood said. “The season being cancelled has been a shock to us because we workout for baseball everyday.”

     “We were very lucky to know about a local training facility in Greenville owned by Trent Britt, because of his active involvement in baseball around Greenville.”

     Finding a place to train has been difficult for athletes across the country and here at ECU, however Smallwood and his teammates were fortunate to be able to work out at Next Level Training Center over the spring and summer, allowing them to stay in shape. This was a great opportunity for Smallwood as he was in the process of recovering from a hand injury he suffered in the baseball season in early March 2020. 

     “When I was off campus, most of my training consisted of strength training and agility,” Smallwood said. ”I took some time off from hitting and throwing for half of the summer.” 

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Graphic by Jay Tyndall

     At these workouts, athletes were forced to follow COVID-19 guidelines that included wiping off all equipment that was used, wearing a mask and socially distancing. Only athletes were allowed to use the facilities. It was closed to the general public.  

     In late August, ECU made the decision to open facilities with Phase 3 precautions such as social distancing, wearing a mask and wiping equipment. This gave athletes the opportunity to reunite with all of their teammates and to use the facilities on campus; however, workouts would be different.

     “Our team has been practicing and training in smaller groups due to COVID-19,” Smallwood said. “Team meetings are on Zoom to limit close contact.”

     Smallwood and his teammates have been thankful to be back together as they prepare for their upcoming baseball season in the spring. They and other athletes have had to be flexible and creative in how they train for their sport, this year more than ever, but they are excited for what the season will bring nonetheless. They are excited to have the opportunity to get to work out again on campus and train with their teammates. 

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