Madeline Breay swims during the 1000 yard freestyle on January 19. (Christian Yiu | Col­legian)

With few chances to compete, the Hillsdale College Chargers have spent much of their fall preparing for delayed seasons. The swimming and vol­leyball teams, however, both had a break from prepa­ration with a chance to compete on Sat­urday, Nov. 8 against outside teams. But only a day before their respective events, they were told to stay home.

The swimmers, who have been racing in virtual meets this fall, finally had an oppor­tunity to swim against the Uni­versity of Findlay and Lewis Uni­versity in Findlay, Ohio. Two weeks before the meet, Findlay had to cancel due to COVID-19 cases on its team. The Chargers scheduled a virtual meet in their home pool instead for that same Sat­urday.

But on Friday, Nov. 7, Hillsdale’s team reported six pos­itive cases, thus having to cancel its own virtual meet. 

“We weren’t sur­prised about the can­cel­lation because we had had people out the whole week before,” senior Katherine Heeres said. “But we had been trying to take mea­sures in the pool so we wouldn’t all have to be quar­an­tined.”

She said the Chargers would swim from opposite ends of the lanes and wear masks on the pool deck, but even that wasn’t enough to prevent the whole team from going into quar­antine.

They can resume practice on Monday, Nov. 16 and are still planning to compete at Calvin College for its Winter Invite in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The meet has been shortened to a two-day meet instead of three, beginning on Nov. 20. 

Heeres said that with the meet approaching in a week, the team is trying to stay active in the best way pos­sible.

“Our coach sent out a com­bi­nation of sta­tions and body weight cir­cuits with things we can use from around the house,” Heeres said. “They are encour­aging us to get outside and walk, bike, or run and do any­thing we can without endan­gering other people.”

The vol­leyball team missed out on an oppor­tunity to scrimmage Gannon Uni­versity from Erie, Penn­syl­vania. The Chargers planned to host the event, but after not getting their test results soon enough, they had to cancel.

“Our local labs are so over­whelmed right now with tests,” Director of Sports Med­icine Tyler Cor­tright said. “It’s taking two to three days longer than they used to take just because there’s so many cases of COVID right now in Michigan.” 

Despite being unable to play on Sat­urday, head vol­leyball coach Chris Gravel said it was a good learning oppor­tunity.

“Both teams were really dis­ap­pointed. We learned some­thing from it though,” Gravel said. “From the time we took the test on Wednesday, it looked like we were going to get it back by Friday, but we learned we can’t get too close.”

Coaches, trainers, and con­ference offices have to decide the best time to test to avoid delayed results. Hillsdale’s head ath­letic trainer Andrew Bacon said the G‑MAC is working on new reg­u­la­tions and pro­tocols to prevent future sit­u­a­tions like this.

“Right now we’re fol­lowing the NCAA rec­om­men­da­tions as far as we can,” Bacon said. “We’re waiting for the con­ference to give us further guidance.” 

The Chargers decided to still have their own tour­nament on the sand courts in Hayden Park. 

“It was a super nice day on Sat­urday, so instead of being depressed that we weren’t able to play, we had a tour­nament,” Gravel said. “We made the best of it and were pretty com­pet­itive. There was a mistake made by me though.”

Gravel said the team nor­mally has a pre-game meal, and although it was an inter­squad tour­nament, he still wanted to get the team together. By Sat­urday night, however, the Chargers learned two of their team­mates tested pos­itive. 

One of the girls had been showing symptoms prior to the test, according to Gravel, so she wasn’t with the team on Sat­urday. Another girl, who was asymp­to­matic and around the team on Sat­urday, was the second pos­itive case. She still has no symptoms. 

“We had been really good about spreading out and being outside and doing all the things nec­essary to keep us from all going into quar­antine,” Gravel said. “But I still wanted to have the pregame meal, what was I thinking?” 

The quar­an­tined Chargers are still waiting for their release dates. Gravel said he expects it to before Nov. 22, just in time for their Blue-White scrimmage.

Senior setter Lindsey Mertz said she is in quar­antine at home with three other team­mates.

“Thank­fully we’ve been able to do things together. We went to the hill by the tennis courts and did some sprints, and the other day we did a bleacher workout and some body weight stuff,” she said. “It’s really awesome to still utilize the out­doors.” 

Mertz and Gravel both said the Chargers were having their best season yet in terms of the team’s overall health.

“I was enjoying my healthiest team in my entire coaching career,” Gravel said. “Everyone’s on a Vitamin D and Zinc reg­iment. Usually half my team is sick by this time of the season. But we’ll recover from this just like any­thing else.”

Mertz credits her team­mates for doing a better job of man­aging their stress and sleep schedules this semester. They’ve also main­tained great mental toughness, which she said will be key in their return.

“We’ve done all the skills and exe­cuted them once before,” she said. “We’ve run so many of the same plays over and over so I think it’s just about men­tally staying with it. Coach encouraged us to watch film to stay sharp men­tally.”