Senior basketball player talks COVID-19 adaptions


Archived Photo

The McCown Gymnasium in the Integrated Wellness Complex being prepared for a Winona State Warriors home basketball game before COVID-19 caused the university to adhere to new regulations.

Maurice Hudson, Sports Editor

The transition from staying at home to coming to Winona State amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been an interesting situation for students and faculty.

Senior forward, Alier Riak, has experienced a fair share of difficulties prior to coming back to Winona State.

Riak resides in Perth, Western Australia and usually travels to campus in the fall for school and basketball.

Riak said he needed to apply for an exemption from the Australian Government to come back due to the border being strictly closed.

Riak said he experienced a plethora of flights being cancelled on his end, which made him late for arrival to campus and made him miss a few of his classes.

Upon arrival, Riak said he was expecting to get back on the court with his fellow teammates and get back into the college basketball routine.

“Our basketball season is very difficult right now,” Riak said. “We can get into the gym, but we can’t practice and work out as a full team.”

Riak said the team has been finding other ways to develop their skills and stay as a cohesive unit while staying safe and following the guidelines.

“We meet a couple times a week over Zoom just to see everybody’s faces and talk about what the plan is for the week, how everyone’s doing and handling the virus,” Riak said. “[We are] just trying to be an example for the rest of the university in terms of doing the right thing when it comes to being COVID-19 safe and stuff like that.”

Riak said he started using the isolation time and time away from the team as an opportunity to bring his focus on academics to a new level.

“There’s a lot more time because the schedule is not as busy with all the normal stuff that would be doing like weightlifting with team and team workouts, so I really been trying to lock in and get ahead on my academics,” Riak said.

Riak also said he is using his time to polish old skills and learn new ones as well.

With Riak going into his last year at Winona State, he said that he is still adapting to the challenges that came with the sports cancellations.

“It’s a challenge, initially, you know, you’re not going to be happy about it, but at the same time, there’s bigger problems going on in the world,” Riak said. “So, you’re going to just have to take it as it is.”

Riak said he is taking the leader role and setting an example for the rest of the season amid the situation.

“Being a senior, you have to act as a leader

because everyone else is going to be looking to you for leadership and guidance and stuff like that,” Riak said. “So, you’ve got to come into it with a mentality of knowing this is the situation, but you’re going to make it work for you the best way you can.”

Riak said he believes that things will find the ultimate medium with the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellations as time goes on.

“It’s just about staying positive doing the right things, trusting the process, trusting the work and everything will fall together,” Riak said. “But it’s hard knowing that it’s not going to be what you imagine.”

Staying positive and doing the right things, Riak said that’s all students and student athletes can do at this confusing time.

“Hopefully we will be able to get back out there in the spring,” Riak said. “We have to stay patient and adapt in the meantime.”


The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.