Wrestling Adapts to COVID-19


Cooper Puls

Members of the wrestling team pose together in Schmidt Rink.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Co-ed Varsity Wrestling team has had to implement substantial changes to its training methods and practice structures this year. The Edward R. Davis Wrestling Room, the team’s traditional practice location, was converted into a weight training room, so the team has been relocated to Schmidt Rink, which is now an indoor turf field. 

Adhering to social distancing protocols while wrestling is impossible. Therefore, the team is focusing on conditioning and surface-level drills. This includes working on stance, motion, and other fundamental techniques that help each wrestler build a strong base. Coaches have lowered the intensity of practice, because of the difficulty of breathing while wearing masks. Co-captain Simone Straus ’21 said, “I hope that this year can serve as a time to get to know each other and the sport, while building a strong foundation and technique for years to come.”

In past years, coaches spent less time on the basics, because new wrestlers had to compete within the first few weeks of the season. Without competitions, coaches have been able to take a slower approach with new wrestlers. Head Coach Mr. Cooper Puls ’11 said, “We’re able to have a bit more fun and focus on basics. With [about five] new wrestlers, we’re able to keep things manageable without the pressure of looming competition [as] in ordinary years.”

Nevertheless, not being able to make contact has been difficult for returning members. Straus noted, “Really close physical contact is what creates a really close bond within the team, and [not being able to make that contact] has been a bit frustrating for returners.”

Outside of practice, the team holds team dinner every night to foster a strong team dynamic. The team also held weekly practices before the season started to get to know each other and boost morale. 

Straus is hopeful that pandemic restrictions will be relaxed in the spring. She said, “I’m hoping that the school can create enough of an isolated bubble for us to make contact. [Then] new wrestlers could get a sense of what the sport really is, even if it’s not in the [competitive] way we’re used to.”