Teams Continue to Plan and Connect Despite Uncertain Future

Sammy Jo Barnes '24, Sports Writer

After Dickinson’s decision to go remote for fall 2020 and the Centennial Conference’s August 14 decision to cancel all intercollegiate competition, the college’s coaches and team members alike have improvised their approach to the months ahead despite numerous uncertainties. 

Empty fields, courts, and stadiums.  Guidelines and schedules changed weekly. Unanswered questions and seemingly no answers anytime soon.  This seems to be the new “normal” for college athletics across the country.

“The hope is we will be able to offer a competitive experience for all our athletes at some point during the second semester,” said Athletic Director Joel Quattrone. “The Centennial Conference is in the process of formulating some thoughts on how this could be achieved.  We have a long way to go to bring this to fruition, but I am looking forward to trying to find a way to make it happen.”

Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Don Nichter believes that if there were to be a running season, he would expect it to be “a shorter season of 8 weeks starting in mid January and concluding in mid March prior to the start of the competitive Outdoor Track and Field season.”  There are still many roadblocks to conquer before the NCAA makes a final decision.

“There are many different academic and athletic team situations on campus across the country,” said Nichter.  “In every situation it will require a very disciplined and motivated student-athlete to engage in a structured training plan this fall in order to be prepared for the 2021 spring and fall seasons of competition.”

First-year Peyton Pflug on the football team has been given workout plans throughout the offseason.  He may not catch a football this fall, but he is still staying positive and working hard at home.

“Now entering into our remote semester, Coach Q, our strength and condition coach, has put together phases of both weight training along with condition training to keep our players in the best shape we can be in,” said Pflug. “Our coaches have done an amazing job of checking in on our players, individually, as classes, and as a team.”

One of these ways of communicating is through weekly Zoom call meetings.  Though it isn’t the same as in-person team bonding, coaches can at least talk to their athletes and make sure their extended at-home training is going smoothly.

“We have recently started a 100 day training plan for the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team,” said Nichter. “In the absence of a competitive season the NCAA is permitting all fall sports teams to train on or off campus for a maximum of 114 days during the fall semester.”

Olivia Oligny-Legget ’24, a newcomer on the cross-country team, is impressed with this plan.

“Our team has been so supportive in training. I feel like we have been training on a regular schedule which is very helpful for staying on track,” said Oligny-Legget.

Instead of feeling negatively towards the situation, she has been focusing her time on daily walks, yoga, and more self-care.  She says she will appreciate her sport a lot more now that she knows what it’s like to have it gone.

“While I know this may make it difficult for me to adjust when we start racing since we haven’t done so in so long, I believe that I will now feel a love for the sport that I never did before,” said Oligny-Legget.  “I will never take it for granted again and because of that, setbacks won’t matter as much.”

“Throughout these uncertain times one of the best ways to cope with the situation at hand has been to set goals, both individually and as a team, to ensure that once we return back to campus we can all hit the ground running,” said Pflug.

Winter sports are also  impacted by Covid-19. Due to limited access to pools and gyms, fisrt-year swimmer Julia Ciesielka, along with the rest of her team, has been focusing on specialized workouts for on-land training and swimming.

“Now that it is the school year, Coach Katie created a team on the Volt app and has been sending out lots of information-loaded emails containing workout equipment,” she said.  “Because of these limitations, all of the workouts within the team vary.”

Ciesielka praises the swim team for their continuous support for the incoming class of 2024 in “every way that they can be.”

“I am very excited to return to campus and finally be in residence [this spring], but I am most excited to be with the team,” said Ciesielka.  “One of my favorite parts about Dickinson was the swim team and I can’t wait to train, compete and get to know them!”

“I think I’m speaking for the entire class of 2024 when I say that I’m most excited to move to campus and formally meet each-other and our teammates,” said Pflug.  “Being at home has felt like an eternity and I cannot wait for the day to come when our entire campus can come back together.”

Quattrone says he misses watching the student-athletes practice and compete. “The intensity and competitive drives each of our student-athletes bring to their sport is inspiring,” he said.  “I am very hopeful we will develop a vaccine that will control the spread of COVID-19.  We can then get back to what we do best, which is compete in each of our sports.”

“I am excited to work with our student-athletes in Cross Country and Track & Field this fall because it is obvious to me that we have a passionate team that is going to respond in positive ways to the challenges of training off campus,” said Coach Nichter.  “Our athletes are talented and dedicated and have confronted this unprecedented situation with tremendous dedication and optimism.  Assistant Coach