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Everything from team meetings and recruiting to hang-outs and book clubs has been moved online for Penn field hockey in an effort to promote togetherness.

Credit: Son Nguyen

Shared Experiences.

This phrase has become the motto for Penn field hockey during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although these shared experiences will not be scoring goals or celebrating huge wins, there is still a focus on making sure the team is unified.

While the Quakers have missed out on experiences like a team trip abroad to Barcelona, Spain during spring break, they aren't dwelling on what they have lost. Instead, they are staying positive and focusing on what they can still do.

"Back at the beginning of this [pandemic], we all had to shift gears so quickly, and adapt and adjust," coach Colleen Fink said. And honestly, I thought our team did an incredible job navigating that transition both from a field hockey standpoint and an academic standpoint. I was really impressed with their character and their willingness to keep their eyes forward instead of dwelling on the past. We missed out on our opportunity to go on an abroad trip in early March, so we had gotten hit. On a couple of different fronts, there was a lot of disappointment."

For the Red and Blue coaches, this has been a collaborative effort with Fink. She and women's lacrosse associate head coach Kerri Whitaker would communicate with each other to share ideas.

The team would talk to each other via Zoom calls and do various activities to keep the group together.

"We had game nights," senior captain Reese Vogel said. "We had open calls just to catch up, we had book clubs, guest speakers. We just wanted to keep the level of engagement high. We just tried to focus on keeping in touch as much as possible."

In the summer, the team took a break from Zoom calls and team activities due to busy schedules, and gave the athletes a much-needed break.

"In the summer, our team was really busy," Vogel said. "They all had very different schedules. Some people were at home. Some people were working. People were doing virtual internships. People were in different time zones. So that was probably the most challenging time for us in terms of staying connected, but honestly, I felt like our team needed that summer to unwind and unplug a little bit in preparation for the semester because it's overwhelming, it's draining. I didn't want them to burn out, and now I want them to come back fresh and recharged and not feeling depleted at the start of the semester."

Even something as simple as recruiting has changed because of the pandemic. Rather than welcoming prospective team members to campus for a visit, the coaches have been doing most of their recruiting via video chats and voice calls.

"We have been recruiting all summer actively, and it's all virtual," Fink said. "We did a virtual junior day, which was very well received, but at the same time, nothing is ever going to replace that in-person visit. You know, some people are close enough to walk through campus to do their own personal tour. Still, others aren't afforded that luxury where that would require expensive travel or flights, so we are offering campus tours virtually and links and photos and all types of different things. I know our staff and our team have been trying to think creatively in doing all that we possibly can."

While Penn field hockey will not have the opportunity to compete this fall on the field, they will still work to make sure that they are ready to go if they get the chance to play in the spring.