Like many of us, early in the pandemic Director of Athletics Chris Ziemer found that working movement into his day was critically important to both his physical and mental wellbeing. “Evening walks with the family and the dog were the thing that really grounded me early on,” he says. Those walks turned into short runs, and the short runs turned into half marathons. “I played soccer and there’s a lot of running in soccer, but I have really rediscovered running lately,” he says. “The craziest half marathon I’ve done was when I was pretty tired, and right at mile 12.8, my phone died! But I had to just had to keep on keepin’ on!”
That’s exactly what our student athletes (and all community members) have been doing over the course of the last six months. The sports seasons have shifted and competition is off the table for now, but our teams are staying connected, our P.E. students are still getting great workouts, and our coaches and staff have been working hard to support our whole community in staying healthy and active even when they are staying home.
As we prepare to start welcoming small groups back to campus for co-curricular activities, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for athletes eager to get back in the game. The Fall/Winter sports season will officially begin on December 7, and the Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball, and Cross Country teams will have an opportunity to get together to work on skills and conditioning...maybe (hopefully!) even safe competition down the road.
In the meantime, athletes have had several options to stay in shape. Teams have been meeting during the Wednesday P.E. block (over Zoom). “We have been laying the groundwork for the season and building team rapport together,” says Chris. “About 75 athletes have been meeting weekly, and they’re eager to get to work together when they can!”
Students have also had a variety of other athletic options, including P.E. Exploratories like Dance, Walking, Yoga, and High Intensity Interval Training. “We have also been running the successful CHAMP fitness program after school with trainer Zoe Ades, and we have had great participation!” says Chris. “Zoe’s classes include strength and conditioning, balance, and coordination, and she also leads the group through some visualization exercises and get-to-know-you activities. It’s really a holistic approach. We always make sure to talk about the importance of sleep, nutrition, and healthy habits.”
With the launch of the Alumni Association’s SA5K this Thanksgiving weekend, Chris sees an opportunity to bring the whole community together in a healthy, active way, even if we have to be apart. “We are hopeful that we can get everyone to participate: alumni, parents, students, and staffulty!” Chris says. “You can run it and try for one of the prizes, or you can walk it and bring the whole family. And the beauty of it is that you can take part no matter where you are. These chances to celebrate our community are so important right now.”
So how does Chris recommend getting ready for the SA5K on Saturday, November 28? “If you aren’t an experienced runner, now is the perfect time to look into a program like Couch to 5k to build up your stamina gradually,” he says. “Download the free RunKeeper app; we are using it for registration and tracking for the event, and it will track your time, distance, and personal records. And spread the word! It’s always more fun to do something like this with others, even if you are doing it virtually.”