Sophomore tennis player Michael Bukhalo hits the ball at Ulrich Varsity Tennis Courts. After an extended time without team practice, Lehigh teams are resuming practices, with new regulations. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Q&A: Athletes discuss returning to practice for first time in six months

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Lehigh athletes were able to resume team practices earlier this month for the first time since the Patriot League canceled all spring practices and competitions in March. The Brown and White spoke with sophomore football quarterback Nigel Summerville, sophomore tennis player Michael Bukhalo and junior men’s soccer midfielder Patrick Adams to discuss what it has been like returning to practice after a six-month hiatus. 

Q: What does it mean to you to be able to return to practice? What has been different about it during COVID-19? 

Nigel Summerville: It’s a big deal to be back, feels good to finally get to practice again. There’s more separation, we’re not as close to each other while still trying to play a contact sport. 

Michael Bukhalo: It’s great to have a structured schedule for practices now so the whole team is training together at the same times with our coach. Although it is quite different since we don’t get as many hours for skill instruction as previous years, everyone is putting in 100 percent effort. (Head) coach (Wouter) Hendrix has also had to make some adjustments for drills because of the virus, but it’s awesome to see how productive we can be even in such an unusual time. 

Patrick Adams: Being able to start practicing again has been a real blessing. Practicing again has introduced a routine back into our lives that has been missing since the start of quarantine. Being able to spend time with the team has really taught me to be grateful for my time here because it can be taken away anytime. 

Q: How have you used the prolonged off-season? What about your training regime has changed? 

NS: I worked out a lot. When I heard we had more time before coming back, I just really dug in and went to work.

MB: I think many of us have used the prolonged off-season to our advantage. Personally I have been working a lot on my fitness and now add in extra time off the court for conditioning and running because that was a big obstacle for some of us on the team last year. 

PA: The prolonged off-season has allowed me to get completely healthy and even back into top shape. Last year, I was carrying a few injuries that wouldn’t go away, but the offseason has allowed me to get healthy. 

Q: What has this past week been like having real practice and team meetings? 

NS: It has been kind of tiring but feels good to be doing football again.

MB: Having real practices has been very motivating since for the past six months we’ve been training by ourselves. It’s super exciting to be able to train with all of the guys that I haven’t seen since the season was canceled. The energy levels are high every day. 

PA: The past week of training has been really exciting. We have four days of lifts and training and three days off a week until the end of the month when we start longer weeks. 

Q: What have the challenges been like training in small groups? 

NS: It has been hard to remember you can’t do the same things as you would normally do, everything is different.

MB: We lift in smaller groups since it’s indoors and we have to keep social distancing. Some of the challenges are just scheduling, like figuring out who needs rides at what time, but I would say a bigger challenge is staying completely focused on our goals from last season since we don’t know when our season will start up. 

PA: Training in small groups with the current restrictions is a challenge because we can only do certain drills. Always making certain we are following protocol is of top concern.

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