RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been more than a year since COVID-19 shut down most sports at Saint Augustine’s University. It was traumatic for everyone but doubly so for athletes.
Athletes are the type of person that’s always active and around others — be it on the court, the practice field or the classroom. Taking all that away in an instant is a shock to the system.
Tuesday, St. Augustine’s tried to give a sense of normalcy while at the same time having some fun by holding a student-athlete day at the Emery Gym and the George Williams Athletic complex.
“This was such a rough year for student-athletes where we weren’t able to compete and a lot of the seasons got canceled,” said Falcons head volleyball coach Tacara Moxey. “I decided to have a field fun day so they can finally get together and relax.”
Originally just another day on the calendar to honor NCAA athletes, coach Moxy instead built it into a small carnival-type party with throwback events that hearken back to the field days we had as little kids.
“We are taking it back to events such as the wheelbarrow, egg and spoon race, the three-legged race, and the pedal bike race,” said Moxey. “Growing up remembering field day and fun day and just coming out of our comfort zone and coming together and having fun this one time before we leave for the school year.”
“To have a chance to go outside and do some physical activity — I’m always jumping right on top of it so anything about a field day like a student-athlete day today I was already all over,” said Falcons football and golf star Zachary Barco. “I signed up for all the events even though I wasn’t sure if I was going to win all of them, I was going to compete in all of them.”
There was a 3-point contest as well as a free throw competition. It might not have been their sport, but after being cooped up for a year it did not take long before the competitive juices started flowing.
The games may have been comedic but the effort being put out was anything but.
“That came out instantly because we’ve all been waiting to compete for a season,” said Falcons basketball star Danielle Rainey. “Just to get out here and compete a little feels good.”
“It’s been a little bit over a year now since we’ve all had to stay at home for quarantine for a school semester. Just getting outside being around other people, seeing the restrictions go down — it’s just really encouraging,” said Barco. “It’s really fun just to be around your classmates again and family again.”
The games, the food, the camaraderie was just what some needed. It wasn’t just about the games but enjoying the moment.
Each of the athletes knows the feeling of having the sport they have dedicated their lives to taken away in an instant. It’s made them thankful for each chance they have just to be a college kid. Even if it’s just for a few hours one afternoon.
“A lot more grateful because you can’t take nothing for granted, for it can easily be taken away,” said Rainey. “We’re just really enjoying all of this and won’t take it for granted ever again.”
“Our motto for the 2021 season football year is ‘grateful not entitled’ and it really hits home for us,” said Barco. “It’s great coming out here seeing everyone and taking every moment you can with everyone building those relationships you know these relationships are going to last for years.”