COVID-19: How It Has Affected our Student-Athletes

A Conversation with Dante Brown

Jadyn Vargas, Reporter

The current pandemic has had an unbelievable impact on everyone’s daily lives. It has affected some more than others, but all in all it has been a drastic and unexpected situation.

We have lost people, been unable to see close friends and family, and had almost every aspect of our lives change. For over a year now, it has been a struggle.

(Photo courtesy Spartan Athletics): Dante Brown placed first in the long jump at the East Coast Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 22, 2020 with a jump of 7.29 meters.

There is a specific group of people that the pandemic affected tremendously, and that is students, student-athletes in particular.

I sat down with my former teammate, Dante Brown, to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted his athletic experience here at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

As a fellow member of the track and field team, I did not participate this semester and wanted to get an inside view on how involvement in the sport is now operating and how these changes have affected him directly.

I am sure a lot of student-athletes are having a similar experience, as this has not been easy for anyone. Brown and I are both seniors this year, graduating in just a few weeks.

Our season got canceled while we were competing in Miami last year over spring break. We never, ever thought that we would never race again. We never knew our last race of the night was our last race forever. It was taken away pretty instantly.

Brown was kind enough to give his point of view on how COVID-19 ripped something he loved away from him.

Brown is an extremely successful student-athlete here at STAC, excelling in track and field. He is an outstanding runner and jumper. His strength and speed allow him to not just excel, but to be the best. According to the Spartan Athletics website, for the 2019-2020 schoolyear, he even qualified as the East Coast Conference (ECC) Men’s Indoor Track & Field Athlete of the Year as well as the ECC Men’s Indoor Championship Most Outstanding Athlete.

(Photo courtesy Spartan Athletics): Dante Brown poses for his student-athlete headshot.

The opportunities are endless for Brown, even outside of the sport. With personal bests of 6.91 seconds in the 60-meter dash, 10.7 seconds in the 100-meter dash, 21.7 seconds in the 200-meter dash, and 24 feet and 5 inches in the long jump, he is nothing short of successful.

He has what it takes to be a professional athlete, and a lot of this talent has to do with the pure motivation, discipline, and dedication he illustrated every single day for years of his life.

The first question I asked Brown was how COVID-19 has affected him physically and emotionally.

He expressed how the virus has taken a tremendous toll on his mental health.

He truly has had a difficult time with the change of it all. The motivation he once had is completely gone. He has had a hard time staying motivated in general, especially when it comes to track.

He said because track and field has been canceled for over a year, with no meets and little practice, he is not motivated to even attend.

He expressed that he has spent a lot of his time genuinely missing the sport and wishing things could be normal again, which I am sure is a common theme amongst student-athletes.

Brown then went into depth about how strong his passion for track and field was. His whole life, he has trained hard to be the best he could be.

However, once COVID-19 hit, that passion completely disappeared. This was really devastating to hear.

“It is hard to gain that passion back after it has been so long,” he said. He added that he often found himself wondering, “What am I even doing this for?”

A lot of questions circulated and he felt as if he was competing for absolutely nothing. How could something you worked so hard on your whole life just be over after one day?

It is a lot to take in, and this goes for almost every aspect of life.

On the more physical side of things, Brown has struggled as well. He shared that he gained some unwanted weight, considering the lack of practice, exercise, and motivation.

Getting fit and active again has been a struggle for him, but despite the challenges he wants to slowly get himself into a routine again.

(Photo courtesy Spartan Athletics): Dante Brown placed second in the 200-meter dash at the East Coast Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 22, 2020 with 21.94 seconds.

Being that STAC is currently on a freeze due to the pandemic, Brown expressed how heavy his workload has gotten and how much busier he has become.

He feels as if there is no time to do anything other than schoolwork, including going to practice.

He has had a really difficult time getting everything under control and staying focused. The strictness of the campus has not made anything easier for him as well.

As the interview progressed, Brown, emotionally, made the statement that he was considering just quitting altogether. The feelings of laziness, and sense of no purpose, no motivation, and everything in between have been a lot.

He feels as if everything he has done, all the hard work, was for nothing.

On a more positive note, however, Brown said that there are a few things that he took away from the pandemic and the changes he went through.

He expressed how he takes nothing for granted anymore, and that he has gotten a much clearer understanding of the world around him.

He also explained how he has learned to prioritize the important things in his life and feels much more capable of doing so.

All in all, COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives, but it is still extremely important to keep a positive mindset and understand that everything happens for a reason.