For many of us, whose lives in a normal year seemingly revolve around sports, this covid year has presented a whole new set of challenges for athletes. This is on top of the ones faced by everyone. Not only was regular day to day life completely flipped upside down, but now the one thing that has remained a stable presence in most of our lives since we were kids has nearly disappeared. As members of the temporarily separated Cal women’s soccer team, we were left trying to adapt the best we could to this new reality. “How to adjust to life without sports?” and “How do I fill all this new free time?” were questions that ran through our heads on a daily basis. A temporary break may have sounded enticing at first, but anyone who has had to take unintended time off from soccer knows how fleeting that initial feeling is. After about a month of covid life, our team started to realize that this situation wasn’t going away anytime soon and that realization opened the door to discovering new passions, hidden talents, and other ways to grow as people outside of soccer.
It’s been inspiring to see the unique ways that the Cal women’s soccer team has been able to channel their energy and personalities into new realms. That is not to say we haven't spent a fair share of time binge watching Netflix, but some of the more popular quarantine activities included cooking, hiking, reading, meditation, and trying new workouts. A lot of the girls found this experience gave them the opportunity to try out new sports and different ways of being active that were previously off the table due to the demands of soccer. Golfing, skiing and at home workouts of yoga and HIIT became pinch hitters. Hiking was a fan favorite among the group, serving a dual purpose of allowing some socially distanced outside time along with the bonus of a workout. Many new trails were discovered; some in new areas, and also hidden trails within Berkeley.
Some of the quarantine moments that stood out most from our team included junior forward Elle Lindenlaub raising her puppy Lewis, the newest and cutest honorary member of our team. She got Lewis, an American chocolate lab, as a puppy at the beginning of the pandemic. He spent part of his time living in Berkeley at one of the junior class houses, and has been lucky to have three other soccer moms to give him extra love as well. Elle has been thriving as a dog mom and has thoroughly enjoyed trying to teach Lewis soccer even though he hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.
Sophomore midfielder, Jadyn Shinn explored her artistic side over the pandemic through trying out a variety of art and crafts. She started off focusing on painting, even creating some abstract paintings to decorate her new apartment in Berkeley. Then while home for the holidays, she got into crafting custom ornaments for family and friends. Her latest hobby is knitting, which she has convinced junior teammate Abena Aidoo to try as well. They are both currently in the process of knitting their first beanies with a goal of being done in time to wear them to our first trip up to Oregon this February.
Our senior defender, Kai stayed busy over quarantine by acquiring a bunch of new hobbies including yoga, meditating, playing beach volleyball, and hiking. She, like many of the other girls, got into cooking, but instead of learning from family or Pinterest recipes she actually took a cooking masterclass where she really refined her skills. Her favorite part of the quarantine was the road trips she took with her family, friends, and teammates.
Freshman twins, Anysa and Amaya Gray who both play forward also had their hands full over quarantine with their cute miniature Yorkie puppy, who lives with them in Berkeley. They stayed active by doing intense yoga sessions, meditation, and skateboarding. Anysa started writing her own original album virtually, with a friend and she is hoping to record it once the quarantine is over.
As much as this year may have seemed like a stagnant year in terms of growth and routine, our team rose to the challenge it presented. Hopefully we can all look back on it as a time to experience growth in unconventional and new ways. I guess it depends on how you look at it.