Ansley Atkinson in practice

Junior Ansley Atkinson participates in a drill during an afternoon practice. Although the team’s season is pushed to the spring, the group continues to prepare for competitions.

In mid-August, the Big East made the decision to postpone fall sports until the spring of 2021.

For Creighton student-athletes this means five teams of players and coaches will no longer take the field, course or court for their traditional season, a reality that although disappointing, did not come unexpectedly.

“It was a lot of back-and-forth and unknown,” head women’s soccer coach Ross Paule said. “But once we realized it wasn’t going to happen in the fall, the focus became ‘what can we do?’”

So while competitions are on hold, it doesn’t mean the same for preparations.

Athletics are permitted to practice as long as they follow strict health and safety regulations.

Women’s soccer is one group taking advantage of the time with teammates. Currently in phase one, players and coaches must wear masks, socially distance and keep up with sanitization of all gear.

“We’re ensuring we’re doing everything possible to be safe in the current environment,” Paule said. “We’re taking it slow and doing it the right way.”

Without the usual upcoming games, the Bluejays are using the extra time to get back into fundamentals and build a strong team dynamic.

“I think the practices are well formed to move the ball and build that team chemistry that we need,” junior midfielder Ansley Atkinson said. “I think the timing is a change, but it’ll be beneficial for us because we have the ability to build our chemistry over time.”

Paule views this fall as a day-by-day process.

“We’re doing all of our training with purpose, we have purpose behind every day to get better at a certain part of our game,” he said. “Right now that means a lot of work on the technical side. We’re raising our standard of being more consistent with the ball while we’re building our strength and conditioning.”

Paule and his staff’s emphasis on purpose is what’s also keeping the girls motivated, even without competition, as they move further through this unprecedented situation.

In a time with a lot of unknown, some of that motivation relies on upperclassmen to share advice with their team.

“Remember why you’re playing: To get better and the love of the game,” Atkinson said. “For me, that’s huge. Trying not to think too much, you’re here to play, you love it, so what else is there to think about or worry about?"

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