Stevenson University’s women’s ice hockey team has been preparing for the upcoming hockey games amidst disheartening setbacks and changes brought upon them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the team is technically “in season” as of early October, official games will not begin until Jan. 15. The game schedule is “still pending approval, but we should know soon what we are looking at for a game schedule,” said Tori Emoff, Stevenson women’s hockey team coach.
Game delays are not the only disruption pushed upon the team this season. Practices and lifts have been altered to meet social distancing requirements as well. Two separate “pods” of players alternate between two practice and lift schedules in order to keep athletes safe. Despite these changes, however, the team is “focused on getting ready for this season regardless of it feels ‘normal’ or not. And obviously keeping everyone healthy while doing so,” Emoff stated. Ally Gibson, the team captain, also added that, to boost and maintain team morale, they “do a lot of virtual team events [and] bonding, or socially distanced activities” outside of practice.
Collectively, the women’s hockey team has one bright spot on its horizon: game play this January. “We are really just excited to play a game,” Emoff said. “Fortunately, our conference opponents have been able to give us teams to play against.” Emoff also noted that, while the players are certainly not thrilled to be sidelined presently, “everyone is grateful and appreciative of the fact that we are on the ice and in the gym.”
To this point, Gibson agreed: “No one is happy about [the changes to our competition schedule] this year,” she said, “but it’s all the more reason we get excited to be back as a team and to play together again”
Until Jan. 15, the team plans to focus on practicing and prepping to maintain its previous season record of 12-9-5. Once the game schedule has been approved, it can viewed here.