NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – All spring sports teams from Merrimack College had their seasons cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with a new school year ahead of them, the spring sports have started their fall training.
I got a chance to talk to Olivia Valdes, Sydney Leeds, and Brooke Yemma who are juniors on the women’s lacrosse team about their feelings on coming back with a fresh start and practicing through the COVID-19 pandemic. After having their 2018-2019 season cut short, they are all very excited to be able to get back to work.
Merrimack women’s lacrosse kept up their morale by staying in touch and communicating with each other over quarantine and summer months. Olivia Valdes told me the team stayed in touch by “zooming every week which made sure we were having face-to-face interactions with our teammates.” Now that they are back on campus, there are many restrictions on who they can see. Brooke Yemma explained since COVID-19, they are only able to see each other on the team so they are bonding more as a team.
Despite the many obstacles this team has faced, they never lost hope in their teams’ bonds. The team can’t gather together due to COVID-19 restrictions, but that doesn’t stop them from getting team bonding in the mix. Valdes explained that they have families that their head coach puts them in that consists of a senior, junior, sophomore, and freshman. In these families, they help the freshman adjust to the new college experience and get one on one time with their teammates. Sydney Leeds explained that the team holds core value meetings every week where they go through their team expectation and goals to become a better team. Their goals as a team are to have strong chemistry on and off the field. Leeds said, “we are all ready and fired up to come back and show the NEC what we can do.”
The women’s lacrosse team is attacking COVID-19 by following the rules set in place for their safety. The team is split into cohorts and they must remain six feet apart from others while wearing masks.
The team has come a long way since the end of their last season. The biggest difference from last season to now is their leadership style. They lost a big class full of powerful leaders. The team’s job now is to see who is going to step into those leadership roles. The program has high expectations for this next season. This year the size of the team will benefit them because of the depth the team will have. Valdes explained, “having such a big team means we always have new feet out of the field. Also, in the midfield, we can really take advantage of our size and speed. Our goal this year should be to focus on how big our team is and to utilize that.”
The team is very excited to welcome new additions to the team with a great freshman class and hard-working transfer students. Valdes complemented her coach and said, “My coach did a fantastic job recruiting them and they will be a great help to our team.” For more information about the Merrimack College women’s lacrosse program visit them online at https://merrimackathletics.com/sports/womens-lacrosse.