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Photo courtesy of Mitchell Cornell

Community is essential to Penn men’s golf, from holding each other accountable to practicing with each other on local golf courses.

Like many of Penn’s teams currently, golf is still in Phase 0, which means all athletes must practice on their own. This scenario poses both mental and physical challenges for the Quakers.

Senior Mitchell Cornell is a captain of the men’s team and has been working to keep the team focused on putting in work safely but consistently. Cornell resides in what he calls the “golf house”, along with five other golfers. He presents a hopeful outlook for the season because of the lifestyle he helps lead for golfers, in person and virtually.

“Golf is fortunate. I have friends on the basketball and squash teams who can’t practice to the capacity we can,” Cornell said. “We can travel in pods and play with people on our team, but there’s still a lot of adjustment.”

Though golfers can practice on courses, what’s been most helpful are the Zoom calls and practice regimens set by Penn Athletics strength and conditioning staff.

“The program they put together with videos and classes that anyone can access makes it easy for us to be disciplined,” Cornell said. “I’ll send in the golf group chat ‘I’m going on this run, all of you better run today, too’ and that’s enough to keep us motivated. We’re dependent on each other but we don’t bug each other too much. It’s self-driven, and that’ll help us in the long run.”

The golf teams have the resources to stay in shape, but they rely on each other even more for moral support. Athletes already have a busy schedule when it comes to balancing schoolwork and sports, and a schedule without consistent routines only worsens it.

“It’s hard to figure stuff out right now. The situation for everyone is tougher,” Cornell said. “Missing the entire fall season and dealing with those emotions while focusing on doing well in school [makes it hard] to be productive right now, so a lot of what we do is check in on each other through Zoom calls and FaceTimes.”

It’s especially challenging when the Quakers have no definite timeline. These are unprecedented times for sports and other schools in the conference have different protocols.

“We’re hopeful for progress to be made so we can be safe, playing golf by the springtime,” Cornell said. “We’ll hear a decision if we’ll be competing in March.”

Some Ivy League rivals, such as Yale and Cornell, are in Phase 1, meaning they can practice strength and conditioning in person for four hours a week. The decision is made by the Ivy League office and the school itself.

“A lot of what goes into sports, both mental and physical upkeep, is consistency,” Cornell said.

This is Cornell’s final season on the team, but he’s proud of the position he’s in. As a senior and captain, he can share his veteran perspective with his younger teammates.

“I feel extremely grateful to be a leader on the team because of the friendships and bonds I’ve been able to make. Even the freshmen are very motivated to do well,” Cornell said. “Any golf season that happens, we all feel very fortunate to play and right now we’re focused on preparing as much as we can between now and then.”

The Ivy League championship last year was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Quakers will look to build off their improved cohesion when they return to the course.