Student Athletes Adjust to the Virtual Semester and Cancelled Sports

This year has come with many new adjustments for almost everyone. For students enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University, it meant having their fall semester changed to a virtual one. For student athletes enrolled at ENMU, it meant sports being cancelled, no regular practice schedule, uncertainty about the future of their college sport, and a very different day-to-day than what they had envisioned for the fall.

For Hunter St John, a Junior at ENMU majoring in business administration, this semester has come with big adjustments and some disappointments. “I can’t remember the last time I had a fall semester where I wasn’t playing football,” said St John, whose position is offensive tackle on the ENMU football team. “The biggest thing I envisioned this year for football was winning the Wagon Wheel and competing for the Lone Star Conference title. I felt as if we had a very strong chance to win the conference this year but due to the pandemic, we got that opportunity taken away from us.”

For Zamorye Cox, a junior at ENMU majoring in health and physical education, this year has been full of change. Perhaps the most exciting change being her wedding, which happened over the summer. As far as the changes affecting her student life as a star member of the ENMU women’s basketball team, Cox has taken them in stride. “Back in March, when the tournament got cancelled, I thought for sure that everything would be back to normal by summer. But we all know that didn’t happen,” said Cox. “I just think life is always changing. Sometimes we notice and sometimes we don’t. This year has definitely been a year that we notice the change.”

College athletes’ lives are filled with responsibility. Early morning workouts, full class loads, practice, pressure to maintain good grades, and the pressure to compete and be successful in their sport are just a few of these responsibilities. When the sports season begins, student athletes go into overdrive. They often travel to games and meets hours away, sometimes staying overnight, and sometimes arriving back to school in the early morning hours. Student athletes must learn and exhibit discipline, goal-setting and self-responsibility in order to be successful. With classes shifted to a virtual setting, no practice to attend, no games to look forward to, and no team workouts, a student athlete’s discipline, goal-setting and self-responsibility take on a new shape – and these two ENMU athletes have taken it all in stride.

“In previous semesters I would live and breathe football while still going to school,” said St John. “Now all I am responsible for is school and being prepared for this upcoming season.”

Despite these changes, however, one thing has remained consistent for St John, and that is the priority of his education. With newfound free time due to his cancelled sport, St John has set high goals for himself. “My goal as a student athlete is to come out of this semester with a 4.0 GPA and in shape for this upcoming season.”

Concerning his sport, St John is as committed as ever. “I am taking this time as a chance to better myself in every aspect for the upcoming season,” said St John. “Being off this fall only gives me more time to get mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming spring season.” A season that St John is hopeful will arrive with more normalcy. “I have high hopes that we will be back on campus. I look forward to seeing a schedule come out soon on who we will get to compete against this upcoming spring. Even though this year has changed a lot of things it has not changed any future plans for me as an athlete here at Eastern New Mexico. I still plan to get my master’s here at Eastern while continuing to play football for the Hounds.”

Cox has remained disciplined and committed throughout the changes, working out from home and completing virtual basketball workouts consistently throughout the week. “I view basketball this semester as an extension of the summer. It is just extra time to work on my skills and prepare for the season,” said Cox.

She has not minded the virtual semester as she has often preferred online classes over in-person settings, as it allows her not to miss any classes due to traveling for her sport. With this, she has not missed the opportunity to make good use of any free time. “Since I do not have as much of a demanding schedule for basketball, I took a slightly harder class load. I did this so that next semester, if we do have a season, then I will have the freedom to take maybe one less class,” said Cox. “It is a difficult position to be in, not knowing what the future holds. But I just continue to pray and accept that whatever happens is going to happen, and it will be okay.”

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