Pelaez’s program ‘feels good’ despite cancellation of spring season due to COVID-19

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Photo by Zach Bukowski

Marquette celebrates after a goal in its 1-1 double overtime tie to Creighton on Oct. 6.

As events across the country and world are being canceled due the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Marquette women’s soccer team is finding ways to make the best out of their suspended spring season.

It definitely isn’t ideal, no one has ever done this before. It has never happened,” head coach Frank Pelaez said. “I absolutely feel okay with it because we did a lot as a team, did community service together, did trainings together which were filled with a lot of information, had individual meetings prior to spring break and got two games.” 

For players like sophomore defender Madison Burrier, she said the offseason consists of physical battles, therefore not being able to perform her regular routine on campus has put a setback on her training.

“Luckily, we have a really great strength and conditioning coach — Emily Jacobson — who is able to send us at-home workouts or (if we are) even able to go to a park right now to do different things like that,” Burrier said.

Burrier said technology has been able to keep her and her teammates connected.

“A lot of us have been reaching out when we are going out on runs, when we put in a workout or just different things like that just to motivate one another and stay on track,” Burrier said. “That is huge right now and just keeping in contact with everybody. I don’t think we have gone a day this break without talking.”

Both Burrier and Pelaez said it is “refreshing” to know that the Golden Eagles are not the only team affected by COVID-19.

“Everyone is in the same boat right now, and we have to remember that,” Pelaez said. “We don’t know what the next day is going to bring us.”

Pelaez said for his team, the thing to focus on right now is academics.

“There are a lot of self-driven women on this team (who) love to do anything they can to stay on top of their game,” Pelaez said. “I want to be able to give them the freedom to be very good at what they want to do.”

Along with Jacobson’s home workout plan and handling the academics of being a student-athlete, Pelaez emphasized the need for safety when being creative with individual workouts.

“Of course, safety is first, so we don’t want them going out to the gym and things like that,” Pelaez said. “You have to be creative in these times, and I love creativity and thinking outside the box.”

One of those creative opportunities came this past week when the team tweeted out a quarantine training video on its Twitter page, an idea that Pelaez suggested to his coaching staff.

“That was something that I suggested and gave to my staff, and Erin (Scott) did a great job with the girls empowering them to do something fun together,” Pelaez said. “Once you get the team wanting to do things like that, then I think good things are going to happen and make everyone feel like they are still a part of the team.”

The video, which was put together by sophomore midfielder Macey Shock, has received close to 12,000 views since it went up March 19. In addition, the Marquette women’s lacrosse and women’s volleyball teams have accepted the challenge from Pelaez’s squad and published videos of their own.

As for Burrier, she said she’s trying to stay as active as possible during this time.

“Personally, for me, I love going on runs outside,” Burrier said. “Being able to do that by myself is kind of difficult right now with the quarantine, so if I can just get outside for an hour a day and go on a run, that is, like, the highlight of my day.”

She said working out is a way to escape from this difficult time.

“It is weird nowadays to look forward to working out just because that is my one form of activity during the day,” Burrier said. “It is a really great stress reliever.”

In addition to getting in her runs, she said she plans on having virtual film sessions with assistant coach Steve Bode, a former University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee defender.

“It has been great to talk to him, and I was talking to him the other day and he was even saying over the break we can kind of go through the film from the two games we have already played,” Burrier said. “It has been great getting to know him, and he has a great mind, especially defensively.”

Pelaez said the one thing being cut short is the excitement around a new staff and expectations because he said the team has worked very hard.

“They have gone through a lot of adversity on and off the field, so … they are willing to do whatever,” Pelaez said.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.