Women’s soccer adjusts to new season plans

Sports can be a way to escape. But without them, the women’s soccer team was forced to adjust to different methods of training, including Zoom meetings.

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Alex Campana (19) attempting to score a goal against NIU in September of 2019. While Brianna Jaeger (7) is there for assistance.

Athletes often compare working out and playing their respective sport as a way to escape from the outside world. This has been the exact case for Marquette senior forward Abby Hess.

“In the first month of quarantine, my mom wanted to go on a lot of walks,” Hess said. “I never thought of a walk as an actual workout, but also just as a time to clear your mind and get away from the media and the news because I was watching a lot of it.”

Although there was so much conversation around whether fall sports would happen as planned, Hess never got distracted and was able to stay motivated, not just for herself, but for her team as well, even in the wake of the cancellation of the season.

I haven’t really touched weights that much. It’s been more bodyweight and cardio workouts,” Hess said. “There has been a strong emphasis on easing back into muscle strength and cardiovascular-like fitness. I think that working my way back up to those high intensity workouts is like baby steps.”

In a time where all of the world seemed to be at a halt, the Marquette women’s soccer team took it as an opportunity to condition and get to full playing potential.

This spring was the first time that I was 100% healthy since coming to Marquette,” senior forward Kylie Sprecher said. “I was really especially looking forward to this fall because it is the first time that I had been able to have spring and summer to prepare. Unfortunately, I’m not going to get this fall. I’m still excited that I’m healthy enough right now to condition so I am prepared for whenever we will be allowed to compete.”

Sprecher was not the only member of the team who thought this offseason was great for rehabbing from injuries. First-year head coach Frank Pelaez also saw this as an opportunity to aid the injured back to good health.

It’s an advantage for them because they were able to take a couple steps back so they could heal,” Pelaez said. “I feel very good for them.”

Pelaez even feels confident for the incoming first-years who have lost their ability to compete over the spring and summer.

“I don’t feel bad. I feel kind of blessed that we’re able to take this time, these next two or three months, to really focus in on what we want to do this season,” Pelaez said.  

Although offseason training for the team was different, they were fortunate enough to have technology such as Zoom that allowed them to still be united as a team.

We’re used to having our teammates to push us and compare each other to,” Hess said. “We’re all competitive, so I think doing it individually also gave us a better mental workout too. For me, I know that I thrive in a group environment, so being on my own was a bit harder.”

Being away from the team was motivation for Sprecher as well. She saw training on her own as a great way to get better before the team is back together again.

“I definitely am motivated by the fact that I know if I’m doing my part to get better, it’s going to help contribute to our team when we are back together,” Sprecher said. “I’m just excited to be able to look forward to the day when we can compete and I want to be as ready as I can for that day.”

Even if the athletes will not be competing with other teams this fall, the BIG EAST has allowed teams to hold activities that include practices and team meetings under the NCAA regulations. Pelaez and his team will take full advantage of the opportunity to practice together again.

The plan of attack is to get through the (COVID) medical phases; physicals,” Pelaez said. “Then get through the strength and conditioning part to see where everyone is at with strength, agility and speed. I want to challenge, teach and look at their soccer IQ.”

 This story was written by Kristin Parisi. She can be reached at kristin.parisi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @kristinparisimu.