COVID-19 challenges athletes

Lucy Lavalley, sports reporter

 

COVID-19 has taken a toll on athletics in many ways—player’s mental health included.

Winona State University’s athletic department has taken little action to help their athletes with the negative effects COVID has on their mental health.

Baseball head coach Kyle Poock, expresses that his team is handling COVID well and are taking the negative things and seeing the positive in them.

“Besides getting a late start with our fall practice and having interruptions where we have had a few cases where they [the players] have had to isolate and then their roommates have had to quarantine. They are actually doing pretty well I think,” Poock said. “We have a young team so with our upperclassmen, the ones that have been affected, it just gives more reps for those young guys.”

School being online this year is what has been taking a toll on the baseball athletes.

“I haven’t had any real issues with the players complaining about struggling with stuff. The only issue we’ve had is we’ve had some guys talk about the academic side with it not being face-to-face,” Poock said.

Third-year baseball player Kyle Gendron said online classes require more attention in comparison to regular in-person classes and that his biggest struggle this semester is the new teaching method.

“You have to be more on top of the online classes, so you don’t miss the due dates and stuff since you’re not actually meeting with your professors and having them tell you ‘oh next class this assignment is due,” Gendron said. “My biggest struggle is with the classes where we are not meeting and having to teach yourself and learn through that way.”

In regard to how the athletic department is handling the Warrior athlete’s mental health through COVID Gendron said they do some new things.

“The advisors will email you and ask if you need stuff, like with opportunities to get help if they need it,” Gendron said. “They also send out surveys asking about the athletes’ mental health.”

Pertaining to his own mental health being affected by COVID, Gendron said he has not experienced any change.

Poock said his role is letting his athletes know that their mental health is important.

“Between myself, Coach Reilly and Coach Johnson, our policy has always been an open door,” Poock said. “They [the athletes] can always come in and talk to us anytime about anything if they are struggling.”

Poock said they don’t have all the answers and if they talk to the athletes and can’t figure out what they need to do, then they will refer them to where they need to go.

“At practice I try to make sure I go around and talk to every guy individually at one point whether it’s about baseball or anything else,” Poock said. “I ask them how they are doing, how they are doing with their academics or how they are doing with whatever. We are open to talk about any of that. And we are continuing to do that still with COVID.”

Mental health is important, and Winona State needs to do better at showing that they are invested and care in the wellbeing of their athletes, not just send out surve