Lily Ives ’23
All the boxes were checked. The anticipation, the nerves, the furious grind and hard work. For Trinity student athletes, the Spring 2020 season was gearing up to be another tremendous season of competition. Optimism and excitement fueled each team, as everything seemed possible heading into the warmer days of March, with the promise of nail-biting and intense competition. Freshmen anxiously awaited their many “firsts” of being collegiate athletes. Their first time playing in their polished uniforms on the competition fields, first overnights to bond with teammates, and first overtime thrillers. Flash forward two years, and the freshmen of 2020 are now Trinity juniors, filled with the same excitement, and still anxiously awaiting many “firsts” of their collegiate careers.
Witnessing the Bantam teams as they fiercely competed in the 2021 Fall season sparked a renewed sense of hope across the entire Trinity athletic community, as things appeared to be almost normal. Caitlyn Buermann, a sophomore on the women’s lacrosse team noted, “seeing our friends on the field hockey team have a season that finally felt normal, made our whole team extremely excited for the springtime, where we hope to have the same conditions, and aim to make it as far as they did!” The Trinity women’s field hockey team made a great splash in 2021, making it the NCAA Final Four tournament, which took place on the Robin L Sheppard Field here at Trinity.
Along with all the excitement of finally having a full season ahead, Buermann discussed with the Tripod the sense of nervous thrill she is feeling once again. “I’m a sophomore here, but in so many ways it still feels like my first season, because of how shortened last season was.” Buermann is not the only spring athlete to feel this way, as there has been no “normal” to Spring sports at Trinity since 2019. Ryan Werner, a junior on the men’s lacrosse team, expressed similar emotions to Buermann stating, “it feels like the beginning of freshman year again. Sure, we were able to compete last year, but this is our first true season and we’re juniors.”
With current sophomore and junior spring athletes finally getting a taste of their first true seasons as college athletes, there is an overwhelming sense of excitement and anticipation racing through these teams, for all of the milestones to come. Buermann’s enthusiasm for the season is palpable, “I’m more excited than nervous, but both for sure. Even for the smallest things like pregame locker room celebrations, overnights, and team dinners indoors. These are all events that none of my grade was able to experience last season. Even the juniors on our team have never had an overnight visit anywhere. It’s all so exciting.”
The past two season have also hindered team bonding opportunities, as harsh restrictions and shortened schedules made it nearly impossible for teams to spend ample time together off the field. Werner touched upon the shift in team culture this year stating, “Being able to see kids on the team off the field is huge for our connections on the field, and it’s undoubtedly a great time whenever we get together. The team feels even closer this year because of all we have faced and now that we are truly able to bond as a team.”
Michaela Russell, a junior on the softball team, also echoed Werner’s take on the importance of cultivating strong relationships through team bonding as she noted, “even seemingly small things like grabbing food with teammates or doing homework together after practice were moments I totally took for granted before the pandemic hit.” Russell went on to express her eagerness to get back on the field, especially pointing to her team’s spring break plans for the 2022 season. “Our team could not be more excited to have the opportunity to go to Florida this spring break. Freshman year we were supposed to go to Florida, but we found out the day before that our trip was cancelled, and soon after that our entire season was cancelled.” For Russell and countless Bantam athletes, the heartbreak of losing that season only serves to heighten the excitement for this coming season. The softball team will get the chance to both compete and bond over their spring break, as the they have a jam-packed game filled schedule. Over the course of six days, the Bantams are lined up to play 10 games against 10 different teams.
As a result of the pandemic, college Spring sport athletes in the NESCAC conference were for the first-time granted the opportunity to have a limited number of practices during the Fall of 2020 and 2021 with their coaches, helping to make up for practices and time missed. In the pre- Covid world, NESCAC rules prohibited any teams from holding practices with their coaches in the off-season. Buermann spoke about the impact and value of these Fall practices, stating, “coming in as a freshman, having the opportunity to practice with our coaches made the transition so much easier. This year, we were able to have 15 practices with our coaches, and after that, we had captains’ practices. These practices were a great way to focus on fundamentals, get to know your new teammates, and build connections on and off the field. At least something good came from all of this.”
The men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are now wrapping up their preseasons and gearing up for their first on field battles to come Saturday March 5, as they both face conference rival the Williams Ephs. Both lacrosse squads have tremendous schedules ahead, with tough contests against talented NESCAC teams, and top-ranked out of conference teams. Werner simply cannot wait for the Bants to hit the field, “Everyone is pumped to finally have a real season, and that passion translates to the field. I’m confident in this 2022 squad and can’t wait to see what we accomplish. You can just feel the excitement on and off the field.” The Trinty softball team also has a tremendous schedule ahead, but still has a few more weeks left of preseason until they roll into their season starting Sunday, March 20th.
Buermann, Werner, Russell and their Trinity teammates are racing with excitement to finally get the chance to take to the fields this spring. The challenges leading up to this season have been historic, and here’s hoping the accomplishments of the skilled Trinity teams this spring will be historic as well, in the most positive and wildly thrilling ways!