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Student-athletes staying engaged from home

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With campus closure and virtual learning in place for the remainder of the spring semester, IU Kokomo student-athletes have embraced a whole new outlook on academics and athletics.

The transition from a hands-on approach to a new virtual reality has proved challenging, but coaches have made it a top priority to keep an open line of communication with their athletes through online resources.

"Every Friday my coaching staff and I check in with the players to see how the previous week has gone, what assignments they've had, how they are dealing with the situation, and if there is anything that we as a staff can do to assist them," said Women's Soccer Head Coach Terry Stewart. "As a team, they are leaning on each other and classmates for help in the different courses. Our players have done a great job of being proactive. They have also expressed that professors have been great at communicating and ensuring that students know exactly what is expected of them."

Academic stability and support have been focal points for every athletic program. Coaches wanted to ensure that their athletes were adapting to the new conditions and utilizing resources provided by IU Kokomo.

"I am spending this time focusing on my academics and trying to readjust to our new online academic experience. This is a difficult time for myself and others, but luckily we have plenty of time on our hands to get it right," said Baseball Team Captain Jared Heard. "In our program, we talk about adversity and being able to overcome hardships. We all have a chance to do just that for the last few weeks of our semester. I am up for the challenge, and I know my teammates are as well."

Student-athletes were also unable to meet and practice with their respective teams. Coaches have kept their athletes engaged through at-home workouts, fitness apps, and online sessions via Zoom, a video communications platform.

"For me it's establishing a routine and trying my best to stick with it. Some days are harder than others to get motivated to work on school or go run, but I try to think about how putting in the work now will benefit me when this is all over. I'm just taking it day by day and trying to make the best of the situation," said  Lexi Jackson, a sophomore runner.

Even under these circumstances, coaches and athletes have kept a positive mindset and look forward to the upcoming 2020-21 seasons.

"We will make it through this as a team, athletic department, university, state, and country. We are fortunate to be facing adversity with many others, and I know that together we will move forward," said Baseball Head Coach Matt Howard. "I look forward to the day in which we can return to the field, but I more look forward to the day that we can all live our lives without fear and anxiety. This too shall pass, and when it does, I know that our program and our players will be better as a result of the challenges which we are all facing."