The fall sports season being canceled was met with widespread chagrin around campus; first-years and seniors alike were stunned with the feeling that they would not be able to cheer on their Stags in the autumn air. This is a normal time for sports like field hockey, soccer, volleyball and more to begin their seasons, but COVID-19 had other plans. These sports will instead pick up in the spring season, where players will finally have the chance to prove themselves out on the field or court.
Danielle Profita is a prime example of this. She is a senior on the Fairfield University field hockey team who has had incredible success over her past three seasons. This year, she hopes that her team can repeat their past successes from 2018 and 2019, and finally bring home a National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship win.
Two years ago, during the 2018 season, Profita and her teammates battled through the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference playoffs to the finals, where they took home the runner-up trophy. This made her fired up, more driven and prepared to overcome anything thrown at her and the team.
“This only pushed us harder for the future, and made us want to do ten times better,” Profita said.
The bar was set incredibly high for the team last year, and they delivered by making it to the sweet sixteen round of the NCAA tournament. In this upcoming season, she hopes to make it there again.
The momentum will keep rolling soon, but for now, athletics are coming back from a brief two-week pause due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, as expected. For many teams, it is tough to get into a good groove due to the extremely limited access to athletic facilities campus-wide.
In a normal, everyday environment, one could probably find Profita attending classes, grabbing food with her friends, and later, hitting the books after a team lifting session.
“I love to hang out with my teammates,” Profita said.
The most important thing that a Division I athlete could do without competition is try to keep their team chemistry up in any way that they can. The field hockey team at Fairfield University has been experimenting with many different ways to stay connected with each other, like participating in team Zoom sessions, personality workshops and other fun activities like trivia nights. The team has also been staying active with Zoom workouts led by team trainers.
Life without competition for a Division I athlete is very strange, as it is a large part of their lives. However, Profita chooses not to dwell on this.
“As a team, we need to keep thinking long term, and focus on winning a championship,” Profita said confidently.
Although many fall athletes hope for their season to start sooner rather than later, Profita has realized that it is probably in the best interest of the league to postpone it.
“They needed to do what is best for our team’s health and safety, especially since field hockey is a high contact sport,” Profita said. “The season wouldn’t be normal anyway, so I think the MAAC made the right move.”
Looking forward, the team has hopes for the upcoming season. When cases decrease to a point deemed safe enough to play, the team will be able to take University Field and finish what they started. Getting sent home in the spring of last year definitely fueled the fire and made the team realize that they would have to play their hearts out this season, as nothing can be taken for granted.
Profita is extremely excited for the future, even outside of the realm of field hockey. After graduating from Fairfield University in 2021, she hopes to land a job with a government agency that deals with environmental issues, as she is an environmental studies major. If the season gets canceled once again, she will make a decision on whether or not she wants to stay and take her extra year of eligibility.
Clearly, the field hockey team is dealing with the COVID-19 situation in an extremely optimistic way. Hopefully, alongside the other fall sports teams, the Stags will be able to hit the field and achieve all the ambitious goals that they set for themselves.