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Surprised? College Online brings the best out of JC Athletics!

-Theo Weinberger ’21, Communication POE, California Skater Dude

It’s been over a month since spring break ended, and the reality for Juniata athletes became classes in pajamas as they co-enrolled at in Zoom University. Parents’ home cooked meals have replaced our sweet Baker and Eagles Landing meals. Lovable pets and our cute siblings may be replacing our team bonding and connections for now, but we shall not forget the Oak shaped holes in our hearts that our early departure from Juniata left us with. Maybe this sounds like an ideal college experience for you? Studying from home may sound like paradise for some, but for others it quickly became clear that not all aspects of life at Juniata College are as fruitful when recreated at home. Being at home has made me miss the appeal of living at college. Part of what makes us Juniatians is that we are adaptable and we press on, and that’s exactly what the Juniata Athletics program is at the forefront doing.

In spite of the Herculean difficulty to translate extracurricular activities into remote college life, Juniata Athletics strives further towards our goals in the face of this covid-adversary. For those that don’t know, my chief extracurricular activity at Juniata includes having fun volleying balls as a part of our nationally ranked Division III Men’s Volleyball team.

That’s right, I’m a men’s volleyball player and I’m proud. On that note, even though our volleyball season ended with us wanting so much more, we, the athletes on the volleyball team, along with many other athletes and friends at Juniata, have stumbled across endless new ways to stay active and keep grinding as a student-athlete away from our sweet home at Juniata.

Social distancing does not need to be social isolation, and through our social media pages the Juniata athletics teams are anything but isolated. As I write this, the @JuniataEagles Instagram social media page is keeping busy by putting on their own Full House theme song parody Tik-Tok making competition (Woah that’s a mouthful!) between sports teams.

My own bingo board!

SAAC, which stands for Student Athletic Advisory Committee, has been enlisting student-athletes to support their online fundraising campaigns for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. It is tradition for Juniatian athletes to donate their time and energy to SO. Over quarantine these contributions take a different form, for Special Olympics U.S., we helped raise money by making a donation bingo board for each athlete’s friends to fill out. In addition to these successful uses of social media to keep people’s spirits up and support others, Juniata’s sports teams are using social media for more than just fun and supporting others, Eagles are using social media to stay active offline!

Despite shelter-in-place orders being the rule of the land across the nation, at Juniata none of our college athletes have used that as an excuse to spend all day munching on barbecue chips on their sofas. In fact, with school still being in full swing, many Eagle athletes have kept much of our typical school schedules. By routinely doing home workouts, attending classes, and staying engaged with our peers, not only are we setting ourselves up for success for the seasons to come, but we are also inspiring others to follow suit. I know I’ve hit on this a lot, but social media has become such an essential tool for us athletes that we’ve started a number of online trends to encourage continued growth between teams. Here are of my favorites:

  • Instagram Takeover!: The athlete takes over their teams’ Instagram story to showcase their everyday activity and create online engagement.
  • Pushup Challenge!: The athlete does pushups and then challenges another to do the same. The number of pushups completed for Juniata students typically ranges from 1-1,000,000.
  • Game pictures/Videos Challenge!: The athlete posts a picture or video of them playing in an official game from their season onto their personal social media page. Our volleyball editions show us bouncing balls for flashy kills or demolishing brick houses through our blocks.

While those social media challenges have gotten many of us to put down the phone and up our workout game, we’ve also received excellent online support from our coaches who make sure we are staying motivated and in shape.  I was lucky to take part in our first official weekly team Zoom video conference with the men’s volleyball team, where we debriefed our truncated season and reaffirmed our goals and plans for our situation moving forward. A nice little surprise was learning at the end that Coach Smith, our college’s strength and conditioning coach, would be joining our team on our next call to review our at-home quarantine workouts! So even for those of us who aren’t big into the social media landscape, it’s nice to know that our coaches at Juniata are still providing us with the means to stay in shape and ready for next season. Life may seem hectic right now, but with so many virtual opportunities laid out for us at the tips of our fingers, it’s safe to say us Eagle athletes are still as united as ever!