In a normal year, the Bowdoin men’s soccer team would be in the midst of a busy season. They’d be practicing constantly and traveling for games almost every other day. But in a unique fall, one where the season is cancelled and practices are limited, the team is using a variety of tactics to stay in shape and bond as a team.
Since only the first years are on campus, the use of different apps, such as GroupMe, FaceTime and even gaming apps, such as Among Us, has been a crucial way for the team to bond with the new Polar Bears. Before the semester started, the soccer team took inspiration from the men’s lacrosse team and created fitness challenges on MapMyRun.
Co-captain Drake Byrd ’21 is enthusiastic about how his team is bonding through these apps and staying active despite the new challenges of this semester.
“It’s hard when you can’t be in touch with everyone physically, but we found that talking to the guys via GroupMe and trying to get everyone on the MapMyRun app was a really good way [to connect],” Byrd said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I think a little bit of competition and staying in touch with the guys has helped with bonding. Seeing everyone running inspires you to run a little bit as well and stay fit and in shape.”
First-year player Grant Griesman ’24 agrees with this sentiment and stresses the important role the apps have played in developing team chemistry while interactions are almost entirely virtual.
“It’s been a good, informal way to meet the upperclassmen. They create a fun atmosphere, and it fosters a sense of community,” Griesman said.
Head Coach Scott Wiercinski said that, while staying connected with first years virtually is important, there is no substitute for being out on the field with teammates.
“I think that the introduction phase is over [for first years], but usually the introduction happens on the field, and there’s a lot of nonverbal communication that happens between guys as they’re playing and in the locker room,” said Wiercinski in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Despite not being able to play with the whole team, practice for the first years started last week.
“Our current first years are working really hard in training and are doing really well,” Wiercinski said.
Many of the older players, taking matters into their own hands, have been able to organize off-campus practices.
“This year, we have been playing soccer every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” co-captain Max McPherron ’21 said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “We look at people’s schedules and find a time that works for everybody, and we get a group of like ten guys.”
Staying prepared and ready to play is a crucial part of the team’s mindset. There is a lot of uncertainty about whether there will be a season in the spring, but the players on the team aren’t slacking off.
“There’s a season looming at some point in the future, and we need to be ready for when that season happens,” Wiercinski said.
Initiative and self-reliance are always important, but in this semester of largely virtual athletics, these traits are more critical than ever.
“[This semester] has given a lot of agency to the athletes to make the most of their situation. It’s been up to us to keep each other motivated, to stay fit,” McPherron said. “It’s made us look in the mirror and understand that whatever we are going to have, it’s going to be because we worked for it and we’ve created it.”