Women’s Swimming and Diving’s New Captains Talk About the Effects of COVID-19 on Their Seasons

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Women's Swimming and Diving coach Elise Blaschke in a huddle with the team. Blaschke was awarded NJAC Coach of the Year in her rookie year as a head coach. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

The NCAA Division III Championships for the women’s swimming and diving teams were set to take place on Mar. 18 and 20, 2020 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Every student athlete who qualified to compete never got their chance since all sporting events were canceled due to COVID-19.

“I remember that those who qualified to compete were very deflated, myself included,” senior captain Emily Kopchick said. “Being able to compete on the national level is an incredible experience that simply cannot be replicated. In context of the entire team, I saw that all of us became truly fearful about what the pandemic was evolving into.”

With coronavirus spreading so fast and sporting events being put on hold, student athletes were mentally preparing themselves for anything that could happen.

“I feel the team was upset,” junior captain Erin Quay said. “It didn’t come off as a surprise due to the progression of events.”

Before the NCAA Division III Championships were canceled, the team took home the winning title at the Metropolitan Championships for the third straight year and received NJAC All-Conference Honors. Head coach Elise Blaschke was chosen as NJAC Coach of the Year in her first season.

“Winning the conference title and being named Coach of the Year in my rookie season was more than special,” Blaschke said. “It was an unexplainable feeling of reward for the time, diligence and care that athletes put into the season, yet to me that award is bigger than me as the coach. It was about the team; their response and attention to training, their desire to do the right thing and their support of their teammates.”

It was announced on the Rowan Athletics homepage in August that all winter sports will not resume until after Jan. 1, 2021, and even now there is still no set date as to when things will pick up again.

“Everything changes day-by-day and so much is in the air,” Kopchick said. “However, our team has made a concerted effort to make the most of what we have been granted to do this year. We are grateful for the coaching staff’s efforts in spearheading practice times and organizing team
meetings.”

As newly elected captains, Quay and Kopchick will bring different strengths to the team in anticipation of a new season.

“As a captain next season, my main goal would be to get the team back in the water, safely, and help them prepare for the oncoming season,” Quay said.

“To promote team continuity by reminding others of the value of hard work, delayed gratification and our shared goal of mastering individual skill sets for the betterment of the team,” Kopchick said. “Great team culture arises not from trying to fix each other, but in looking outward together with the shared intention of self-improvement.”

For student athletes who compete in the fall and winter, Kopchick advises applying your active mindset to other areas.

“As athletes we are conditioned to be goal-oriented and competitive,” Kopchick said. “Just because you don’t have as much of an outlet this year with sports doesn’t give you license to become undisciplined. Take your competitive mindset and apply it to other areas of your life, whether it’s with academics or cultivating a workout routine.”

“The character traits that brought you success in your sport, such as work ethic, perseverance and learning from mistakes, are behaviors that will make you successful in life,” Kopchick said. “Sports skills are life skills.”

Last season, Kopchick realized that the work you put into your sport means more than the accomplishments you make.

“The journey to mastery doing something you love is much more enjoyable than the fleeting thrill of success,” Kopchick said. “Last year I had the opportunity to witness the efforts of other team members pay off at Metropolitan Championships. From this, I have felt a happiness that
does not hunger for more but remains sated.”

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