Teams prepare for fall practice plans in the absence of athletic season

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Media: Rachel Culver

Men’s basketball sophomores Stephen Fabrizio (left) and James Beckwith (right) are among the athletes who have found outdoor courts to sharpen their skills.

Emerson’s decision in July to cancel fall athletic competition created a void for student athletes and coaches alike that will be filled by two five-week-long practice periods. 

Athletic Director Patricia Nicol said the college plans to divide its practice facilities and resources into two sections—one for fall sports and another for winter and spring sports. 

Women’s soccer head coach David Suvak said the Lions are set to begin their off-season training on September 14. Over the following five weeks, Suvak said the team will take a three-phase approach, beginning with two weeks of fitness training. The Lions will then move on to a week of individual technical work before a final two weeks of full team workouts. 

Nicol said these workouts will be done in the safest way possible in order to combat the potential spread of the coronavirus. 

“We’re going to be following all NCAA, state, and institutional guidelines for resocialization during the five weeks,” Nicol said in a phone interview with The Beacon. “It will be very closely monitored.”

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When the women’s soccer team begins their training in mid-September, Suvak plans on dividing the team into two groups of seven and one of eight. Two groups will train on Rotch Field first, and the third group will work out there an hour later. 

Women’s basketball head coach Bill Gould said they will follow a similar format when they start training in mid-October. First, the team will splinter into small groups for conditioning before progressing to normal practice activities. 

Unlike the college’s soccer programs, which will be able to train outdoors, the women’s basketball team will train in the Brown and Plofker Gym. The gym, which is usually open for practices, games, and open gym time for athletes looking to sharpen their skills, is now closed to everyone. 

Gould said the Lions are not letting a lack of facilities stop them from improving. Some players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams have even scouted out outdoor courts in the Boston area to practice individually. 

“There are outdoor courts, and kids want to compete,” Gould said in an interview with The Beacon. “Kids want to play, kids want to get better, so they’re trying to find ways. I’ve talked to them, they have to be smart and they have to not put themselves or their teammates or classmates or anybody at risk, so you have to be smart about it. But if you take a ball and go to the outdoor courts and shoot, like, okay, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

The Lions will have to train either alone or in low numbers for the time being. Still, Gould is confident the team will get the most out of their training. 

“The one benefit of basketball, unlike some other sports, [is that] it really is the only sport that you can simulate an actual game by yourself,” he said. “I mean, you can ball-handle, the only thing you can’t do is pass, I guess, but you can shoot, you can dribble, you can rebound. There are a lot of things you can do, and then certainly you can play a game one-on-one with one other person and really mimic what a game is like.”

Approximately 17 percent of the college’s student population opted for online learning this semester, including a few members of the women’s soccer and basketball teams. Suvak said two members of the Lions’ 24-person roster will attend Emerson remotely these next few months, while three members of the women’s basketball team will not return to campus. 

Suvak said he is confident that the remote members of the team will continue to do what they need to in order to keep pace with the rest of the team. 

“They’re involved in everything that we’re doing, whether it’s a phone call, or a Zoom, or things like that,” Suvak said in a phone interview with The Beacon. “So now, just like in summer training, it’s on their initiative that they have to stay fit for the spring and next year.”

The Lions will begin training in less than two weeks, and Suvak will have the opportunity to build off of the momentum the team established during their playoff appearance in 2019. Even though they won’t be competing this fall, Suvak said the team will do everything it can to be ready for the next time they take the field. 

“I feel that, if we have the ability to train 30 times between now and the fall of [2021], and then add the class of ‘21 to this, we still could be in a really good situation,” Suvak said. “We again may be young in that year, but I think a lot of colleges are going to be in the same situation. We’ve built a very good program for Emerson, and I’m confident that the momentum is going to keep going up for this group.”