Five Hope College fall student-athletes shared their insights into a semester and a season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how they have tried to display leadership and show gratitude during trying times.
In Part 1, the team co-captains answered the following question focused on leadership: “How have you helped lead your team this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic that required so many changes to the way you do things?” See their answers below.
Brooke Truszkowski, Women’s Cross Country
“I think I have led my team amid the COVID-19 pandemic by proving that we can be close and have the strong team dynamic, although our traditions and team bonding may look different. I think that COVID-19 has made me realize what a gift we have to be able to practice and compete every day. Although this is not how I envisioned my senior season, being able to see my teammates every day at 4 p.m. is all I think each of us athletes wanted. I like to remind my teammates of this as well. Having a positive attitude among the uncertainty is what bonds us all together and this proved to show a difference in our virtual meet against each other. We all ran our home course 5k to get times to send out to different colleges, and almost every one of our runners PR’d (personal record). To see my team so happy and competitive about a virtual race made me so proud. Leading with positivity is hopefully contagious to my teammates, and I want to try to continue to lead with optimism amid the chaos of COVID-19.”
Jeremiah Purnell, Football
“I think that I and many others on the team have helped lead our team throughout this pandemic. With a large team on campus, there are a lot of players that are affected by this pandemic. Team comradery is huge and as a team, I feel as though this pandemic has brought us closer together. We have done many activities together as a team that has built our foundation and made relationships stronger. Coach (Peter Stuursma) always tells us to do the right thing when nobody’s watching, which means never skipping reps or not going 100 percent during practice. When you’re working hard practicing, or lifting early through the week without a game at the end of the week, it tests people’s character and their commitment to the game. We know that we won’t be competing this fall, but knowing that other teams in our conference (Adrian and Trine) are playing right now drives us even more to be better. I also think that the Zoom meetings that we hold are very helpful for learning the plays, especially for our younger guys on the team.”
Adair Cutler, Volleyball
“There’s something especially inspiring about watching someone work hard for no reward, and that’s what our team is doing right now. We won’t compete for a national championship this year, but we’re still training hard and giving everything we have, and that reveals a lot about our team’s character. I’m helping lead this team by maintaining the hard work, commitment, and championship mindset we would have in any other season, despite the lack of competition. We are also staying in the present. It’s easy to let our minds slip into thinking about the past or the future, but we are staying engaged with the moments we have right now. My teammates make it easy to be joyful in the present, and we’re cherishing the time that we do have together. We are enduring this season with a spirit of optimism and an unwavering work ethic regardless of the reward.”
Abby Meder, Women’s Golf
“I think our focus this fall has been ensuring that everyone still feels like a part of the team despite missing some of the opportunities we usually have to get to know one another. It began before the season. We had Zoom meetings as a team that included the incoming freshman in order to get to know one another and help everyone feel comfortable and welcome. During the season, we focused our team meetings on growing outside of just our golf game. Given that this is such a weird semester, we focused on community, service, and unity as topics. We talked about relevant topics in our world, checked in with each other, and even did some (remote) service together. Overall, our focus this season was not only working on our golf game but also growing as people.”
Dominick Byrne, Men’s Soccer
“I have helped lead my team in this pandemic by demonstrating that this is how we close the gap on the teams that are better than us. We are using this time to reload rather than relax. We may not be the most talented team, but we want to be the hardest-working team in the country. If I can convey to them that we are taking dead-aim at being national champions, then the only way to do this is to outwork everyone.”