The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on available practice locations, times and protocols for many sports teams at Lehigh this semester.
Because of all 23 sports playing at once, players and coaches have had to shift the way they prepare for their seasons.
Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams, in addition to the rowing team, have been affected more than others; Practice times have changed, capacity numbers have shifted and practice locations have been altered as well.
“COVID has affected (the) practice schedule in the sense of timing and duration,” said sophomore women’s tennis player Ella Imhof. “Since the weather has a huge impact on whether or not we are inside, we have to be cognizant of that.”
They also have to coordinate with the men’s tennis team when scheduling practices since they aren’t able to share courts due to the lack of space.
The tennis team also experienced a “resocialization period,” meaning practice times were changed, decreasing the amount of time players had on courts to practice.
Senior women’s tennis player Casey Zhong said that the women’s tennis team experienced shortened practices first.
“We started practicing for an hour, then practices were increased to an hour and a half, and so on,” Zhong said. “We now practice for two hours which is what we were doing before, but having less practice time made it difficult to train for certain matches.”
Imhof said they’ve had to practice at less ideal times, either early in the morning or late at night because usually, they share the tennis facility with the men’s tennis team, but now they cannot.
The tennis team still practices five to six times a week, a typical training schedule for most sports teams.
Much like the Lehigh women’s tennis team, the rowing team has also had to make shifts in their schedules and lifting periods due to the pandemic.
The rowing team usually holds their meets at Lake Nockamixon, but the lake is not allowing Lehigh to hold their races there because of the pandemic. Instead, they have to travel to every single race.
Head coach Brian Conley explained that rowing practices are still located in Taylor Gym, but the floor plan has changed drastically.
“The set up on the fifth floor is spread out, and we cannot have the full team up there at the same time,” Conley said. “There is a lot of cleaning that we need to do.”
He said the standard practice schedule is the same, but there are morning practices throughout the week they had not had previously.
“Some members on the team were not comfortable lifting with other sports teams, which is totally understandable,” Conley said. “Therefore, we were able to incorporate these morning practices to allow for a safe environment for our rowers to train in.”
There has also been additional work and practice routines given to rowers by the head strength coach. Rowers now have a body circuit system that is in conjunction with the water workouts, so rowers can practice and condition off the water as well.
The pandemic has had a lasting impact on these teams, but there is optimism for the future.
“The new protocol has been working pretty well, and if rowers continue to follow this, we can foresee a more normal practice schedule for next year,” Conley said.