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Staying in shape: How Belmont athletes are finding motivation without a season to win

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

After so many season delays and cancelations, many student-athletes might throw in the towel — but that’s not the case for Belmont’s fall sports teams.

On Aug. 13, the Southern Conference Council of Presidents announced their decision to postpone fall sports until Spring of 2021. The next day, the Ohio Valley Conference Board of Presidents did the same.

And without competition, it became uncertain what the fall athletic programs would do with their extended off-seasons — but head men’s soccer coach David Costa viewed the new situation as an opportunity.

“Instead of being in this competing phase that we would be in right now, we need to pivot our mentality and our player’s mentality that this is all about learning and developing for the next six months,” said Costa.

“We’ve never had this much time to prepare our team, so we need to take advantage of that.”

Taking advantage of this time is crucial, as the key to good play is a sense of purpose, said Costa.

“We are excited to be back on the field, back on campus, and I believe that if you have purpose, you can stay motivated.”

Veteran head women’s soccer coach Heather Henson echoed sentiments, adding that a sense of community is necessary, too.

“What keeps our team motivated is the desire to want to be together, it’s that simple,” Henson said.

“We are going to trust each other and trust the process. Go day by day, and get stronger and stronger–physically, mentally, as well as technically and tactically–And that’s gonna make our family stronger, thus whatever is thrown as us, we know that we’re stronger together.”

Though last year’s conference title left the team excited for a follow-up season, Henson said the additional time may actually be more positive than negative.

“There’s a lot of ‘this is good’ moments that actually blend the pandemic world and our sport world together to help us. What is good for us is we get to take a little bit more time,” said Henson.

In 2019, Henson produced an OVC champion with only 10 days to prepare. With this delay, she has six months.

To add, volleyball player Mary Catherine Ball was initially disappointed in the OVC’s decision — but now she has the extra time to focus on her mentality, she said.

“My personal goal for this upcoming season is to work on my mental game. Volleyball is a mental sport where you have to balance pressure, risk, and momentum. If you are not in a good emotional/mental state, it is going to affect your performance drastically,” said Ball.

“My goal for the team is to find our flow and rhythm, we have struggled in the past with that. We are doing everything in our power to combat it.”

Like Costa and Henson, Ball finds motivation in the company of her teammates.

“What keeps me motivated is my teammates and the love for competing. Over the summer, we have accountability groups where we discuss how our workouts are going, what’s working and what isn’t. My group helped me keep focused on the end goal,” said Ball.

Ball said developing relationships with her new, freshman teammates will translate into success on the court once safe play is feasible again..

“I believe a positive coming out of COVID-19 is the extended time to train and to get to know the team on a deeper level.”

This article was written by A.J. Wuest.

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