When COVID-19 first swept the country in early March, universities promptly shut down and spring sports were cut short. Athletes went from practicing and playing almost every day to going home, wherever that may be, uncertain about their futures.
But in that time, several UNC athletes reacted by finding new hobbies or perfecting their crafts.
Brittany Pickett, a fifth-year senior on the softball team, was dealing with a broken thumb when the 2020 softball season started.
After the pandemic cut her season short, Pickett worked out to stay in shape throughout the season and academic year. Once she was cleared to resume softball workouts in June, Pickett started throwing and hitting again.
During this uncertain time, Pickett worked on growing her faith. She said social media encouraged her to grow this aspect of her life.
“This is a good time to start getting uncomfortable with some things and help you get more comfortable with learning more about the Bible, reading it more and just challenging myself to be better,” Pickett said.
Kayla Wood, a senior on the women's lacrosse team, said it was hard to adjust to the extra free time she wasn't accustomed to.
“For me, just sitting, not really doing much besides schoolwork and not really being able to get out, it was really difficult for me," Wood said.
Wood said during the pandemic, she resorted to drawing as much as possible as her outlet. She said it kept her mind occupied, allowed her to be creative and helped her stay positive.
She often drew sunflowers because of the positive energy, she said. She loved them because of the colors and how they reminded her of her close friend.
“I think that was something I was really trying to hold onto during the pandemic, just trying to find positivity in everything I did," she said.
Lindsay Miller, a senior from the rowing team, said she worked out with her teammates over Zoom and hosted optional workouts for teammates to stay in touch during quarantine. The workouts helped Miller stay motivated when the abundance of free time made it harder to remain driven.
Since this was a confusing and uncertain time for everyone, Miller also took it upon herself to host Zoom meetings for the incoming first-years to help them adjust to the college experience as much as possible.
“I knew it was going to be hard for them to meet people, and going to college in a pandemic was going to be scary enough,” Miller said. “I wanted them to have people that they knew they could ask questions to and feel integrated into the team before they got to campus.”
As a biomedical and health science engineering major, Miller worked with a research firm on neurodegenerative diseases and chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer. She's most recently worked on academic literature review.
But Miller returned to campus in the fall and is still around campus, even with the majority of students sent home. With practice resuming for the rowing team, Miller is excited, optimistic and appreciative of what is ahead.
“(I'm) grateful for every opportunity I have, and you never know when it could end, especially with all the uncertainty now,” Miller said.
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