NEW BRITAIN - For many, college is the first time theyâ€™ll spend extended time away from family, and while that may be difficult, students traditionally have the option to go home whenever they want.
But with the pandemic minimizing travel, both small and large, for everyone, being a college student can be more isolating than normal with most classes going remote and back-and-forth travel being heavily discouraged. That has certainly been the case for student-athletes, who must stay on campus in order to minimize any kind of covid-19 outbreak.
So with the semester nearly over and everyone missing their families a little extra, the Central Connecticut State University athletic department surprised the starters from both basketball teams with short videos from their families for their introductions before the menâ€™s game on last Wednesday and the womenâ€™s contest on Saturday.
â€śThe separation that the kids have to have from family and friends and professors and not being able to go to class, itâ€™s a lot to not be able to surround yourself with the people you're most comfortable with outside of your teammates,â€ť womenâ€™s interim head coach Kerri Reaves said. â€śThatâ€™s the biggest thing that I think our kids have had to deal with, itâ€™s a night and day difference for some of our kids. We have great kids that are very sociable and theyâ€™re good people, just not being around their family and friends has been really hard on them.â€ť
For many of the players, winter break will be the first chance for them to go home since arriving at school at the start of the semester so getting to see their families, in some form, was refreshing.
â€śI havenâ€™t seen my family since the summer, since early August,â€ť senior Emma McCamus said. â€śSo that was really cool, it was really a nice gesture.â€ť
Reaves, an alum of Marquette University, said she first heard of reaching out to her playersâ€™ families when her alma mater reached out to her about recording an introduction for one of its starters and she liked the idea.
â€śBeing able to look up and see [them] on the board was something that I think they needed at this point in time because itâ€™s been a long semester,â€ť Reaves said.
With neither team knowing the videos where coming, it served as a little extra emotional motivation ahead of their final games of 2020. The men won their final game before winter break 78-59 over St. Francis Brooklyn, their best defensive performance of the season. The women beat Fairleigh Dickinson 77-56 to snap a two-game losing streak and get to .500 on the season. With everyone looking for positivity anywhere they can, it was a well-received gift.
â€śThey are one of the most resilient groups of people Iâ€™ve ever been around in my entire life,â€ť Reaves said. â€śTheyâ€™ve been through so much since March 13 to this time and theyâ€™ve never quit responding, theyâ€™ve never quit working, theyâ€™ve never quit being there for each other. They are very resilient and I appreciate that so much.â€ť
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com