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Athletes are excited for the switch back to online classes in the fall but also acknowledge that the workload for practices and classes will be a big change. Credit: Miranda Gong

Big strides are being made toward a return to normalcy for Penn's student-athletes. 

Ten days after a return to in-person classes for the fall semester was announced, the Quakers moved into Ivy Phase IV, and spring sports teams are now being allowed to have in-person competitions against local universities. As shifts toward a post-pandemic college atmosphere occur, we take a look at what the fall may look like on campus.

Students and student-athletes alike are no doubt looking forward to getting closer to what a normal year at Penn would be, but this is especially true for freshmen who have not yet had the chance to get the true student-athlete experience. 

“I’m definitely excited to be back in in-person classes, because it’s a different dynamic when you’re in person. You get to know your teachers and be around your peers,” Gabe Wright, a freshman defensive back on the football team, said.  

Another factor to consider, however, is how in-person classes will affect students like Wright in terms of being able to manage their workload, practices, and competitions.

Gone are the days of hopping out of the shower and sitting at your desk to log onto class while prepping a post-workout snack. With his only in-person obligations this semester being workouts, Wright found classes manageable but acknowledges that it will be a big switch in the fall. 

“I know a bunch of us, myself included, are a bit concerned that we might be running from building to building, back to our rooms for meetings," Wright said. "So we know it’s going to be a different dynamic, we know it will be a new challenge and a different step up from this year.” 

Despite it being a challenge, Wright says that “it’s part of the job,” and he thinks it will be fun running from building to building with his teammates. 

For women’s basketball freshman Kemari Reynolds, however, it isn’t as straightforward of a transition to in-person classes. Reynolds would prefer a hybrid learning setup but is still excited about getting a real college experience. 

“I am slightly happy about the change back to in-person classes, but I’m more nervous because I’ve become so comfortable with seeing college through Zoom," Reynolds said. "My team is happy about things going back to normal though, so that’s always good.”   

A major contributing factor to this hesitancy about the return to in-person classes among student-athletes — not just freshmen — is the increased difficulty balancing practicing and studying.

Women’s tennis junior Iuliia Bryzgalova dislikes that current restrictions placed on her team mean limited practice times, but she knows that a return to full practices also means a return to in-person classes.  

However, over her past three years at Penn, Bryzgalova has found managing practices, matches, and classes to be doable, especially with proper time management and planning.