Athletes on leave turn to future seasons

Will Jernigan ’21, one of several athletes taking time off this semester, embraces head coach Bob Ritter on the field after a game.

Courtesy photo

Will Jernigan ’21, one of several athletes taking time off this semester, embraces head coach Bob Ritter on the field after a game.

By Jenny Langerman

In addition to its obvious impacts this fall, the cancellation of this fall’s sports has implications for the future as well: losing a season of competition means that Middlebury student-athletes and teams are missing out on time to improve and develop.

“Not having a season is really tough because it takes away the goal of training so hard, which is to win a national championship,” said women’s tennis player Ruhi Kamdar ’22. “As such, I think that motivation [and] training time will naturally decrease or not be as strict.” Like many other fall athletes, Kamdar is taking this semester off.

Those who deferred the semester face the challenge of staying connected to their teams and sports while off campus, especially given that many are using this unique time to explore and pursue other interests. Quarterback Will Jernigan ’21, admits to feeling “a little out of the loop” on the football front, since he is not on campus to be part of the daily ongoings and regular practices.

Although official play is on pause, Middlebury athletics has found ways to maintain team spirit and continue training in the interim, hoping to pick up right where they left off next year. Teams are holding physically distanced training sessions, group workouts over Zoom and online team meetings, among other activities, to stay in touch and motivated.

Kamdar expressed her optimism for future seasons and competitions. “I think that the team camaraderie will still stay intact and strong because all of us are very close,” Kamdar said. “Although we grow even closer during the season, I am sure we will find other things to strengthen our relationships.”

Head football coach Bob Ritter shares a similarly positive outlook. “We are trying to focus on the positives and not compare this fall to past years,” Ritter said. “We are excited that we still have the opportunity to get together as a team. We are using this time to really focus on the teaching of skills in detail that we might not have the time to do during a season and still be involved with our players to help them reach their potential in the classroom and the community.”

Middlebury sports are definitely making the most of the situation, and it seems their Panther pride is pulling through.