Sac State student-athletes on their shelter-at-home routines

Athletes adapt to life without sports


Graphic by Robyn Dobson

The Sac State Athletics Department canceled all sports through the end of the academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With all the extra time, student-athletes have found themselves picking up new and old hobbies to pass the time.

Olivia Laroa

With the NCAA suspension of all remaining winter and spring championships, games and practices and Sacramento State’s subsequent cancellation of sports through the end of the academic year, student-athletes are adjusting to a new daily routine – one without the sport they dedicated their college life to.

“Part of being an athlete is facing adversities; you’ve got to roll with the punches,” said Evan Stork, a junior thrower for Sac State’s track and field team.

The last track and field team practice was in mid-March, with the NCAA cancellation announcement falling just 12 hours before the track and field season opener, Stork said.

Stork got serious about throwing, specifically the hammer throw, at his junior college, Cuesta Community College, in San Luis Obispo. Because of his late start, as well as a hernia injury setback, there’s a game of catch-up that has to be played to stay in line with more developed athletes, Stork said. The cancellation of this upcoming season postponed what would have been Stork’s first opportunity to compete as a Sac State athlete in the hammer throw. 

Track and field may be an individualized sport, but Stork said if there’s one thing to miss the most, it’s practices with the team. 

Stork also mentioned that his close friends are seniors, and it pained him to watch their undergraduate college life come to an end this way.

RELATED: ‘I was at a loss for words’: 47 Sac State senior athletes to miss their final season

Stork chose to stay in Sacramento during this break, but not without his dog, Bella, to keep him company. Stork is staying fit while home with bar and plate lifting workouts, but said the more challenging aspect is dealing with assignments for his physical education major.

With the closing of classrooms on campus, course work has been modified to accommodate an online learning environment, but it doesn’t feel adequate, Stork said. Because his major involves teaching others, Stork said the application of teaching models he has learned is getting lost in the online component. 

“There’s a lot that goes into reflective teaching,” Stork said. “It gets recorded, then you get feedback that’s invaluable. It’s a bummer to lose that.”  

Sac State softball player Lewa Day shared similar challenges as a result of the stay-at-home mandates. 

“I’ve always been such a busy person,” Day said. “It’s challenging, having it stop all of a sudden after playing all year for so long.”

The freshman third baseman had started the season with a massive .707 slugging percentage and was one of only four Hornets to play in all 26 games of the shortened season.

Day returned home after the campus closure and finds it tough to focus in a space that isn’t her own.

“It’s another obstacle,” Day said. “There’s so much failure in softball, you just have to learn to overcome it.” 

Day’s approach is to keep working as much as possible. While she does miss going to the gym and lifting real weights, she said bodyweight workouts have been a way to hold herself accountable.

Along with classwork and exercise, Day has found time for other activities she couldn’t squeeze into her schedule before. She said she’s been buying new books to read and canvases to paint on.

“We won’t take anything for granted anymore,” Day said. “We won’t complain about the long bus rides home.”

Sac State junior beach volleyball member Ashtin Olin has also used the extra free time to revisit hobbies she did not have time for during training.

“It feels weird,” Olin said. “I feel like I’m back in high school on summer break.” 

RELATED: ‘This is where I’m meant to be’: Sac State volleyball player sets team up for success 

Along with reading for pleasure, Olin said she has been focused on her spiritual well being by reading her bible and building her spiritual relationship.

“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise,” Olin said. 

Olin’s birthday passed during the quarantine, but she said it was still made special with a home-cooked meal and a Zoom call from her family out-of-state. 

Macey Hayden, also a Sac State junior beach volleyball athlete, has been spending her time focusing on her mental and physical health. 

“I’ve been doing little relaxing things to get out of my head,” Hayden said. 

Not only has Hayden been in the process of working on doing the splits, she has recently found a love for cycling with her father’s new Peloton. She has also gotten creative with her home workouts, using a 24-pack of water as weight. 

“I miss lifting weights,” Hayden said. “All power lifting, moving big weights, I’m a fan of.”  

Sac State softball coach Lori Perez shared her excitement to resume normal activity and training for athletics once campus reopens.  

“The loss of day-to-day activity and loss of interaction, they are missing things that are created in person,” Perez said of her team members, as well as her 6-year-old and 9-year-old children who are also home from school. 

Perez said she has concerns of what the future holds for the season coming up, such as whether there will be budgets and what will happen with the 2020 conference. 

Perez said she has not let the uncertainty hold her, or the team, back from training for the next season, whenever it may come. She initially had planned to conduct Zoom workouts with her team, but the NCAA is not allowing for coaches to conduct workouts in real time. However, Perez said because she lives an active lifestyle, it was a quick alternative to send workouts she does herself to the team. 

Perez views this time as a little bit of a restart in which the team can work hard and train all fall to get ready for the spring season. 

“We got a glimpse of life without,” Perez said. “I am excited for the new season.”