From February 1 to March 2, the Eastern University Men’s Lacrosse team was not in one piece. Different players were in quarantine at different times due to COVID-19 exposure. When the spring season was approaching, the team being thrust back to their homes or isolated in Doane Hall was not ideal. Despite quarantine restrictions and strange timelines for returns, the team still managed to keep up their physical shape, skills, and camaraderie.
Like many athletic teams at Eastern, staying in physical shape is a vital element to in-season success. The men’s lacrosse players found themselves having to complete team lifts over Zoom. Because the team was separated, players found it tempting to slack off. The most difficult part of quarantining was “staying motivated and continuing on with what I should’ve been doing,” first-year midfielder, Braden Wagner said. The boys were lucky to have a trainer that recognized the individual struggles to keep motivation and organized a team Zoom call to stay in shape together. “Zoom workouts forced us to come together and suffer together, and that’s what really makes a team bond,” Wagner said.
Practice does not just consist of workouts, however. The muscles that the players build in the gym play an essential role in skill on the field.
Wagner said he hones muscle memory at home by walking around his house with his lacrosse stick, using anything as an obstacle. “All you need is a wall to throw off of and some space to run around in,” Wagner said. These elements made it easier for lacrosse players to practice solo as they were physically separated. These individual skills benefit the players as they return to the field, but team chemistry is also a vital element that needs to be restored after several weeks apart.
Although practicing alone is completely possible and fairly convenient, Wagner prefers practicing with a small group of teammates. This made quarantine even more difficult. Without the motivation of their teammates, players lose the very much social aspect of the game. “Lacrosse is a social sport, so I enjoy having the company,” Wagner said. “Team practices undoubtedly motivate me more.” Quarantine stunted the boys’ social practices and team dinners, bringing their group efforts to a halt for several weeks.
The Men’s Lacrosse team relies so heavily on theirteam chemistry that quarantine made them miss each others’ presences on and off the field. A lot of the guys are roommates and close friends, something that Wagner said he thinks is amazing. “If you’re on the lacrosse team, you enter a brotherhood of 30-something guys,” he said. This sibling-like team bond is something that EU Lacrosse highly values. After being separated from their closest friends, almost family, the players could not wait to be back with each other, practicing, chatting, and playing warm-up music one can hear all the way from Olson Field to Sparrowk Hall.
Now, the team being several games into their spring season, Men’s Lacrosse can definitely say that they have overcome one of the greatest adversities that student athletes have faced: the team quarantine. Wagner said that he is confident about where the team left off when they returned, but they cut it close. “The majority of our guys [got] back March 2, and our first game [was] March 6,” said Wagner. Despite this close call, Wagner explained that all the guys were still inspired to get back in action, especially because of last year’s halted season. The guys are off and running, and will use their spunk, energy, and skill to hopefully propel Eastern to a