Northwestern’s club sports pause activities during Wildcat Wellness


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Club sports teams cancel practices following the University’s Wildcat Wellness restrictions.

Anna Bock, Senior Staffer

NU’s club sports teams halted in-person practices and competitions for the first two weeks of Winter Quarter following the University’s announcement of a Wildcat Wellness quarantine period.

The University is home to 38 club teams with about 1,200 annual participants, according to the NU club sports site. From navigating the quarantine period’s gathering limitations, some athletes face unique challenges both mentally and physically. 

“(The announcement) took a lot of energy out of me,” said McCormick senior and club squash president Sean Malcolm. “We were told we’re not allowed to do anything … meet, practice or do most things.”

The squash team’s first competition is scheduled for shortly after the end of Wildcat Wellness. Malcolm said he worries about the team’s preparedness physically after practice was cancelled for two weeks. 

Medill sophomore and club swimmer Ally Navarrete said her team might incorporate alternative fitness options, like last year’s virtual dryland workouts, to prepare for imminent February competitions. 

“Missing two weeks in the water definitely isn’t the best way to start off the quarter when we have a meet early next month,” Navarrete said. 

However, Malcolm and Navarette both said their team members are likely to take advantage of the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion to individually prepare for upcoming competitions during Wildcat Wellness. Exercise spaces are open by reservation and will operate with modified hours, according to a University email. 

Weinberg sophomore and club soccer player Milan Bobek said restrictions barring team practices have less of an impact on sports that are no longer in their competition seasons. He said his team’s official competition season wrapped up in October.

“Some of the guys will be sad they can’t get out to the field for a few weeks, but it’s not a huge deal for us,” Bobek said.

Club sports athletes are not only impacted by Wildcat Wellness from a physical fitness standpoint. Some athletes expressed concern for their mental health without practices or team gatherings. 

Jorge Melendez, a McCormick junior and club water polo player, sees his sport as an outlet from student stressors. 

“Club sports are really a space where you can turn your mind off,” Melendez said. “You jump in the pool and just focus on what you’re doing without worrying about all the other things.”

In spite of the various emotions surrounding the pause in club sports activity, Melendez said he understands the University’s decision given the evolving circumstances of the pandemic. 

However, Melendez and Malcolm shared similar feedback for how the University is handling COVID-19 restrictions and asked for better communication and consideration of their teams. 

“Club sports tend to be forgotten about,” Melendez said. “When policy changes are implemented, leaders of club sports often aren’t told what’s happening or how it affects them.”

Going forward, club sports athletes await the fate of their teams’ competitions and practices following Wildcat Wellness. 

Navarrete said this pause in activity makes her feel like everything is moving backwards after the progress made in returning to normalcy this fall. However, she said she remains cautious in her hopes for the coming weeks. 

“If things continue to get worse and the University decides to retract on some things, I think that would be bad,” Navarrete said. “But for two weeks, I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”

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Twitter: @anna__bock

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