Senior team captain Alyssa Sanders runs during a meet. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

“Run for your life.”

That’s the motto for this upcoming season for the women’s track & field squad, and it is one that carries significant meaning for coach Derick “Ringo” Adamson.

As has been the case with everyone during this pandemic, uncertainty and pessimism began to creep into the back of the coach’s mind, making preparation and management rather difficult.

“To be honest, I didn’t know if we could adapt,” Adamson said. “When you grow up in life though, you have to adapt. You have to look at the situation and go with it. It was depressing to say the least.”

Ultimately, countering COVID-19 through protocol and paperwork has been the most taxing aspect for Adamson, taking a lot of the fun and energy out of the sport in his eyes.

“It consumes so much time and it is very draining,” Adamson said. “It reminds me of my first time in America with adjusting to a whole different lifestyle, having to figure out and navigate through it. It’s like living a nightmare trying to live through it. I feel like I’m reliving it in whole.”

Clearly, the pandemic has taken a hefty toll on the entire squad, making the return of spring sports a small ray of hope in their lives.

“I felt a little relief, and I know the girls feel the same way,” Adamson said. “I feel so bad for them, especially the seniors. They lost their championships and indoor cross country because of all of this. I’m just hoping to have a conference meet at this point.”

Now that their return to action has been made official, Adamson can get back to what he does best: teaching his girls how to thrive both on and off the track.

“I don’t wanna lie to these kids and you can’t fake stuff with them,” Adamson said. “They are bright and intelligent, so I always want to be upfront with them and to make our practices fun.”

Perhaps most important to Adamson is the well-being of his athletes, which was the inspiration for his motto: “run for your life.” When discussing this motto, he does so with utmost seriousness.

“[COVID-19] is attacking your lungs and you need your lungs, so the stronger they are, you can fight it off better,” Adamson said. “Recently, one of my recruits called me up and told me that she had come down with COVID. She went to the hospital, and her oxygen was still good. She told me that her doctor said it saved her life, all because she still goes out and runs and didn’t need oxygen because of running.”

Researchers from Oxford University have confirmed that exercise “may provide a small reduction in severity of symptoms.”

Quite literally, running has been a lifesaver for the Profs over the years. The same goes for captain Alyssa Sanders, a senior runner who has coped with the pandemic through staying fit.

“Being able to be active has helped me out a lot, and so has working out at home and bike rides,” Sanders said. “It’s been weird not being able to do what I’m used to doing, and that is to have a race every weekend for eight years.”

Frankly, there is more to life than winning track meets, and Adamson preaches this message to his squad every step of the way.

“Coaching is teaching, and I live my life by the five Cs: character, courage, courtesy, compassion and conscience,” Adamson said. “It’s all about knowledge and sharing that knowledge in hopes of helping others be the best that they can be.”

As long as the women’s track & field team is able to keep this perspective in mind, they will always be winners, regardless of the results.

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