Whether Phoenix athletes were in the middle of their Spring Season or in training for the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons, their lives have since changed as dramatically. Under COVID restrictions, UWGB athletes have been given tasks to complete while under quarantine. Coaches and trainers are now relying on the athletes to be independent and mature in their quest to continue to improve in these never-before-seen circumstances – without supervision or organized workouts.
Dorene Sanchez, a junior defensive fullback who started every game for the Green Bay Women’s Soccer Team this past season, is now getting ready in a way unlike any of those in her first three years in Green Bay. “Our assistant coach sent our team a document to track pretty much everything,” she said. “Workouts, course work, diet and overall mental health.”
Dorene has also been taking advantage of her free time by going on long distance runs on nature trails by her home in Weston WI. “I’ve also been playing soccer with my brothers on my old high school field.” Her goal, of course, is to be ready for her final season and play a pivotal role in the Phoenix backline.
A Copenhagen, Denmark native just finished his final season in a Green Bay uniform. While he battled injuries all season, he also saw plenty of success at Aldo Santaga Stadium. It was an up-and-down career for Adam Mansa; things have only gotten crazier since COVID-19 arrived on the scene. Adam traveled back to Denmark to be with his family before travel restrictions halted international travel. Mansa is now doing his part by self-quarantining and doing workouts alone. “I’ve never really been a long-distance runner, but since we are not allowed to train together, I’ve been running seven miles every second day – outside – to try something new. The hardest part is the social aspect; I don’t get to interact or talk to my teammates like I usually do,” he said from his home in Denmark.
The social aspect is one key element missing for all these athletes: They don’t get to push each other and all improve together. Mansa is looking to play semi-professionally when everything settles down and make a run at a professional career if possible. Right now though, he’s focused on keeping a positive mindset and improving any way he can.
The Green Bay Men’s Basketball Team concluded their season just before sports came to a halt. Junior Guard PJ Pipes is feeling the effects: he’s run into the roadblock of finding places to workout, but his coaches are understanding. “My coaches have just really advised my teammates and myself to just stay safe and make sure if anything that we get our homework done and turned in,” he said. “They have been pretty understanding about all the gyms being closed and a lot of us not being able to work out on a regular basis but they advised us to go on runs and do ball handling outside if we can.”
PJ is looking to be one of the focal points of the high-powered Green Bay offense next season as he comes off a 2019-2020 season shooting a scorching 45% from The Three! Right now, he’s focused on finishing the academic aspect of being a college student-athlete. “I thought it would be easier to do schoolwork at home, but I was definitely wrong about that,” he laughed.
Staying positive is the main thing on his mind right now; he knows this is all temporary. “Adjusting to this lifestyle of doing my assignments at home as well as trying to stay in shape has been pretty hard,” he said, “but I‘ve been making the most out of it so I feel like I have been having a lot of fun adjusting to this new way of life. I definitely miss being able to use the gym and facilities on campus, but I know this will only last so long. I am being pretty optimistic about this whole situation.”
“Overall, it’s been a weird experience but I’m so grateful to be a part of a team that is doing everything possible to maximize our growth and stay connected. It’s definitely a bummer not getting to be in the weight room and the Dick Bennett Gym for the rest of Spring, but I think our team is really taking advantage of other resources to find ways to stay in shape and stay connected,” said sophomore outside hitter Shannon Coughlin.
The Green Bay Women’s Volleyball Team is arguably doing as much as any team in the entire country under these conditions. From team Zoom Calls every morning, to watching film, to focusing on mental health, to completing individual volleyball related assignments, the team is excelling – individually – during life in this pandemic.
Coughlin just posted a stellar season racking up 250 kills and setting a career-high for kills in a game; 23 against Wright State. Anna Eaton established herself as one of the best blockers in the Horizon League registering 108 blocks last season with 128 kills. Kayla Lass, a redshirt freshman, is an athletic, outside hitter from Stevens Point who looks to make a big splash in her first season this Fall. Similar to other sports at Green Bay, athletic trainers have been busy assisting the athletes with plans to help them get stronger. “Our strength coach, Brandon, has been giving us full bodyweight workouts to complete throughout the week, which have been challenging,” Kayla said. “Being at home definitely makes us have to be creative in our workouts.”
Coughlin isn’t stopping at the workouts given to her by her strength and conditioning coaches. She has been doing boxing workouts, with running and ball control drills to keep her volleyball skills sharp and ensure an even bigger season next year.
Anna is thrilled how Green Bay Volleyball has dealt with the hand they’ve been given. “Of course, it’s not the same, but I think we are handling this situation as well as we possibly can. We upload videos and photos daily to show us after workouts and it allows us to see how others are doing with the workouts and it never fails to provide some comedic relief,” she laughed.
One aspect Eaton loves about the new at-home workout schedule is Phoenix Phriday Phitastic where the girls get in groups and each week create a workout for the whole team – and Brandon, their trainer participates as well. “It is really hard having to be away and there are a lot of things that everyone could complain about, but we strive to show our gratitude with each other and to others. I am truly grateful to be part of a team that looks at the positives and strives to see every moment as a learning experience and opportunity for growth.”
Kayla emphasized how much she enjoyed having a set schedule everyday thanks to the meetings on Zoom every morning at eight. It starts off her day and keeps her on task whether it be school, workouts, or nutrition. She is also a big fan of the team sending in photos of each other post-workout everyday. Her biggest frustration with this virus going around is being away from the sport she loves. “I think for a lot of us on the team, volleyball was our ‘get away’ from life. By that I mean, any stress going on in our lives – whether it is family or school related – we are able to forget about it during practice. So the constant stress building up is hard mentally.”
Back in Stevens Point, Kayla is relieving built up stress by spending time with family. “My sister is pregnant and is due within the next month so it’ll be nice to be here for her during this crazy time.” Lass’ favorite exercise during quarantine is anything with abs and her least favorite is anything with arms.
Redshirt junior Sam Myers of the Men’s Nordic Ski Team has taken advantage of the COVID circumstances. “I’ve been running almost everyday,” he said, but what separates Sam from the rest is how much running he’s really doing. “It’s about 6-8 miles, and then I’ll follow that up with some body weight strength exercises like pushups, sit ups and dips.”
Part of a team, Sam doesn’t rely on others to perform his speciality, but stays in close contact with teammates. “Since Nordic Skiing is an individual sport, it’s easier for our coach to send us a training plan that lays out what we should do for workouts during the week.” Myers is eager to return for his senior season, but for now is content with a cardio-focused offseason in his home state of Minnesota.
The chaos Coronavirus brought the sports world – and the world in general – is of a great magnitude, but it appears Green Bay Athletics is ensuring their athletes are receiving excellent assistance in trying to bring out the best in each and every athlete – mentally and physically.
Written by Jacob Lenzendorf
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