Approximately one year since their last time practicing as a full group, Bowdoin softball continues to face challenges. Prolonged distance from campus has largely eliminated opportunities for competitive play and made it hard to sustain and create new social connections. While the team is disappointed by the differences of this semester, they have been able to refocus by falling back on a shared love of the game.
Caroline Sablone ’22, a member of the softball team, explained how building a team dynamic is the main focus for this semester.
“We have a lot of time to just spend time together and do it right,” Sablone said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “Whatever the best we can make of it is, we want to be able to do that, especially for our seniors.”
Moving forward, the team is still looking for a successful season, it will, however, look different from previous ones as the number of weekly practices has been decreased from six to three, and only one is attended by all players.
Sablone noted that, because each player has experienced a different level of training over the past year, the team’s coaches have approached the return to training with the mindset of accommodating everyone.
“They’ve been really understanding that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all process for people, and everybody is dealing with it differently,” said Sablone.
Head Coach Ryan Sullivan explained that he is easing players into this season, as they have not been able to compete at a high intensity since last March.
“Most of our players haven’t thrown a softball, for example, at the volume or intensity that a normal softball practice would entail [in a long time],” said Sullivan in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Despite the generally lower-intensity practices, players have been reminded just how much running out on the field energizes them.
“Just hearing the upperclassmen laugh and enjoy being around each other was incredibly rewarding,” Sullivan said. “So in some ways, it’s less actually about softball and more just having an outlet to be around each other.”
With the possibility of spring games now on the horizon and competition reemerging as a focus, the team has emphasized connection as a central goal. However, with players in a variety of locations around the world, personal connections have been difficult to form.
“Normally you’d catch the whole team in Smith [Union] at one point, like all huddled together doing homework or something. I missed that in-passing interaction that we get with people,” said Sablone.
While there have been some necessary virtual programs, such as team Zooms to discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work, players such as Angelina Mayers ’23 feel that there hasn’t been much opportunity for more informal team conversations.
“We haven’t really had any bonding time outside of faculty-run programming,” said Mayers in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
As an upperclass member of the team, Sablone hopes to provide leadership but agrees that it is difficult to get to know team members online.
“It’s hard to get to know [the first years] as people,” Sablone said. “And I’m sure [that] for them, it’s overwhelming to … have to talk with all these girls you don’t know.”
While virtual programming may present difficulties at the moment, Sullivan has hope for the future.
“In a world next September, where things are dramatically better, if not 100 percent, we’ll be able to really take on some of that work with building some relationships,” Sullivan said.