The weekends on the Campus of Concordia College are silent without the roar of the crowd ringing out from Jake Christiansen Stadium. Nights in Memorial Auditorium are empty without the sound of volleyballs being spiked. And afternoons walking through Olson Forum are lonely without the hum of workout machines coming from the balcony. The absence of ways to be involved with athletics on campus at Concordia has taken its toll on the physical and mental health of students and faculty alike.
July 28 was the date the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced that there would be no sporting events taking place in the fall. The announcement paired with measures put in place by Concordia have left students to their own devices to satisfy their sporting desires. Some students have found ways to both stay involved with sports while keeping socially distant.
Senior Samantha Sabin had never set foot on a tennis court before a trip to Duluth with her boyfriend last month, but three weeks later, the two of them have played at a number of different outdoor courts here in the Fargo-Moorhead area and get some sets in whenever they can.
“[Tennis] is super fun, it’s a learning process, it’s rewarding to see the improvements I make every single day. It’s also great for couples bonding,” Sabin said.
She also hailed tennis as the perfect sport to pick up during the pandemic: “It’s outdoors, you are already socially distant, and you can just go out and do it.”
Just like any new experience, there were some lessons that Sabin learned along the way.
“We saw an 80-year-old man playing tennis with his friend one time, and that same man came up to us and told us the rackets we had been using for the first few weeks of playing were racquetball rackets and not tennis rackets,” said Sabin.
After posting about her early impressions of tennis on social media, Sabin said she had been contacted by multiple friends asking about her tennis experience and if they could play a quick game with her some time. Sabin highly encouraged anyone who wants to stay active find a socially-distant sport.
“The pandemic perpetuated a dark cloud in so many people’s lives, and I think physically distant sports are the perfect way to get that social aspect back into our lives while being active,” said Sabin.
Playing socially distant sports is how some are dealing with the pandemic, but Victoria Halvorson has picked up sports in a different way this past summer. Halvorson began keeping up with the NBA. She said she felt the urge to get into following the NBA after watching the documentary series The Last Dance, which followed the career of Michael Jordan.
“I literally knew nothing about basketball,” Halvorson said.
Halvorson’s time in quarantine with her family may have just been the push she needed to become a member of the basketball community as her brother was already a huge basketball fan and they would often spend time together watching basketball highlight reels on YouTube. Along with watching highlight reels and documentaries, Halvorson has been able to watch every elimination game in the playoffs this season and has been listening to the podcast The Ringer NBA Show. She even found herself putting off homework until halftime of one game while she was studying.
The NBA bubble and focus on racial justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd were also things Halvorson considered when becoming so engaged with the NBA.
“I felt comfortable becoming a fan because I agree with the things they are doing.” Halvorson says she will continue to keep up with the NBA even after the pandemic is over.
“It definitely gets me excited about things, like I have something to look forward to,” she said.