Being a college first year can always be uncomfortable and difficult, and adding Covid-19 precautions to the equation makes connecting with peers all the more complicated. Bella Di Benedetto ’24 of the women’s soccer team said she is grateful for the community and built-in support system the team provides, regardless of whether soccer is actually played.
“So far I have really enjoyed Middlebury, and my transition has been easy because of the girls on the team,” Di Benedetto said. “It was definitely a different experience getting to know the team compared to previous years, but the team is so welcoming that they tried to ingrain [the freshmen] into the team from the time we got to campus.”
As the college transitioned from Phase One to Phase Two, softening guidelines enabled the women’s soccer team to increase the frequency of practices and meetings to focus on actual play — all while socially-distant and masked, of course.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on technical work, and as the semester has progressed and restrictions have loosened a bit, we have been able to do more game realistic playing, which has been great,” Di Benedetto said.
For Di Benedetto, keeping up with her training in at least some capacity has helped create a sense of normalcy for her first year.
Di Benedetto has also taken advantage of this limbo period to branch out from the soccer crew. “I spent a lot of time with the team but also thought it would be important to make other friends outside of the team,” she explained.
While Di Benedetto has ultimately made the decision to defer this spring, she looks back on her first college semester in a positive light. “Even with Covid-19 and a lot of restrictions, I think it was a great first semester,” Di Benedetto remarked. “Coming into a new environment was great, and I was really happy to meet new people, too.”
Di Benedetto remains optimistic and enthusiastic about what her future years at Middlebury will bring — hopefully minus Covid-19, of course. “I’m really looking forward to coming back next fall and hopefully having a bit more normality on campus. I’ve heard that campus life is very different without Covid-19 so I’m looking forward to having a more ‘normal’ academic, athletic and social life when I come back.”
Di Benedetto is a Phillips Andover alum from Wakefield, Massachusetts. When she’s not playing soccer, she loves to ski, travel and spend time with friends and family. Di Benedetto has not yet decided a major, but she is interested in economics and global studies and wants to continue learning Spanish.