College athletes keeping busy amid shutdown

Kylie Christensen calls it keeping things in perspective.

She's safe at home with her family, she's learning remotely, she's still connecting with her friends and teammates through technology and she's still working out for when play resumes.

It's just different.

Christensen, a 2017 Cadillac High School graduate, will be a senior on Aquinas College's volleyball team this fall and is expected to be one of the Saints' leaders.

She earned AVCA/NAIA All-Mideast Region Team honors last fall and is poised for bigger things in 2020.

It's just a little different than what she'd normally be doing right now.

Aquinas — like every college in the state — transitioned quickly to online learning when the coronavirus pandemic first broke a couple of weeks ago.

Christensen is back home in Cadillac doing her online schooling and getting in workouts for volleyball.

"For me, it's about keeping it in perspective," she said. "I am sad that I'm not at school with my friends but I am blessed to be where I am at.

"My mom and brother are at home and my dad is still going to work every day. A lot of kids had their seasons canceled and there's always someone that has it worse. I'm at home learning but at least I am safe and everyone in my family is safe."

Not being on campus in Grand Rapids means volleyball gets a little bit tougher but Christensen and her teammates are making it work.

The team's captains and Aquinas coach Ryan Campbell worked to get workouts going as they found out they wouldn't be able to be together in one gym.

They were helped along, too, by PowerStrength Training Systems in Grand Rapids with workouts they could all do remotely.

"We have been slowly trying to keep each other accountable," Christensen said. "We have a system for each week. The captains and Coach Campbell talked and we decided we would FaceTime for workouts three days a week.

"Three of the seven days we're meeting in smaller groups online and the captains lead the workouts. I am in the group at 10 a.m. and then there's ones at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. There's two to four girls in each group."

They go through a 5-10 minute warm-up followed by lower-body workouts, upper-body workouts, full-body workouts and conditioning. Christensen said each session lasts between 40 and 60 minutes.

While they were still on campus, girls could spend extra time in the gym working on skills but that now has to be individual.

Christensen said that's been tough.

"We're not building our team bond or getting extra touches," she said. "The whole thing is unprecedented so we're trying to maintain the strength we have and not backtrack.

"Everything helps keep your sanity."

Going forward — as life hopefully returns to a normal — Aquinas will still do its summer work. That includes workouts, open gyms, beach volleyball and time spent volunteering with club teams.

As for online learning, Christensen said it's been a bit of an adjustment but a number of students had done it already in some form. Christensen already had one online class this semester before all learning went that route.

"The professors have been transparent with what their plans are without overwhelming us," she said. "I have two classes that do Google Hangouts weekly where we go through the lecture and ask questions about the material.

"I think overall, it's going well. The advisors have been great."

It's about academic accountability, too, without classmates to help refocus.

"I am still using my planner every week," Christensen said. "I still have a way to hold myself accountable without talking to other kids every day."

Cadillac News