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Fuel to the Fire

November 23, 2020

Coaches and athletes at Lasell University grappled with new roles and responsibilities on campus this fall when they were tasked with adhering to COVID-19 guidelines while keeping up with team training. 

Lasell University Women's Soccer team practices drills during COVID-19

Student athletes balanced the increased importance of health and safety with their desire to compete throughout the fall semester. While some elected to attend classes virtually, others opted to return to campus and participated in modified training programs. Many of Lasell’s Class of 2020 graduates adjusted their plans to include a master’s degree at Lasell to make use of their continued player eligibility and to further develop knowledge and skills in their professional industries.

Men’s soccer team player Michael Palumbo ’23 stayed in shape this fall through weekly training sessions that varied in format on the University’s turf and grass fields, and at the campus gym.

Lasell University men's soccer player trains during COVID-19

“I am now making graduate school part of my journey at Lasell to make use of all four years of athletic eligibility,” he says. “I played in last year’s GNAC first-round matchup and am a sophomore now. I’m hungry for more and want to bring the University to new heights.”

Narissa Libby ’21, a member of the women’s soccer team, is considering a master’s degree as well.

"When you look at my major and my career goals, getting a graduate degree and then my doctorate makes the most sense,” she says.

Teammate Erin Petrocelli ’21 adds that training in a new way this fall without the competition of games hasn’t been easy, but that the team “stayed loud and motivated during practices.”

Lasell cross country athletes on a run during COVID-19

“Building friendships without games is something we never thought we would have to do,” she says. The team used Zoom to hold meetings and get to know incoming players. She is also considering an additional degree to extend her eligibility. 

“Earning my master’s degree would aid my career, and I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye to soccer yet – especially not in this way.” 

Head Coach of women’s soccer Vito La Francesca saw the absence of conference play as a new opportunity. 

“There was no pressure for playing time or winning,” he says. “Our team was a lot more relaxed, and in spite of limitations, we still got the best out of our players.” 

All of Lasell’s athletic teams have broadened resources for their players with a stronger emphasis on mental health and well-being. For coaches, the fall semester provided time to implement new methods of team communication, and to develop innovative modifications to classic drills. As a result, they are better equipped to foresee and mitigate future challenges while supporting their athletes’ competitive thirst.