It is not a normal fall for the Crimson Hawks because there is a plethora of sports usually going on at this time, but COVID-19 had other ideas for this fall athletic season. Every Crimson Hawk player and fan is setting their eyes on a hopeful spring 2020 season, and the IUP Women’s Soccer team has big goals for the possible spring season.
In order to get an inside look at the team, defender/ goalkeeper DeAvion Anderson (sophomore, psychology) gave us an exclusive interview with The Penn.
Anderson, a North Olmsted, Ohio native, played in 12 games last season and was able to contribute to the squad as a freshman. Anderson was able to get three assists last season and had a shot on goal percentage (SOG %) of .400. She looks to bring her game to the next level this season and help her squad.
In her interview, Anderson was able to give me a great perspective on the situation at hand and how she and this team plan to dominate come spring. A big question that every student athlete has heard by now is how has COVID-19 affected you personally in the off-season?
“Since my mother is at high risk if she gets COVID-19, it has been really hard for me to be okay going to the gyms when they open,” said Anderson. “Sure, I’ve been running a lot more outside and being able to go up to my local soccer field and doing ball workouts, but lifting weights adds a whole new energy and strength that you just can’t get with doing cardio and ball work only.”
It shows that athletes like Anderson are still dedicated and motivated to make sure to get the necessary training. Despite the tough times in the world right now and her mom being at high risk with COVID-19, she has found a way to press on.
She has been sure to get cardio and ball work in during all this as well as making sure she and her family are staying healthy. How do student athletes like her get ready for the upcoming season in general?
“This year has definitely been different trying to prepare for the season,” said Anderson. “I just try my hardest keeping up with my workouts, even though at some points you just feel so unmotivated.
“It’s a lot easier now being back at IUP, and there are people here that want the same goal as you, a winning season.”
She was able to put things in perspective and take the positives out of this unprecedented situation.
“In the end, it’s about being here, training with my housemates/teammates and doing workouts with them as well as having a good time bonding with them all at the same time."
Motivation is the key word for a lot of athletes like Anderson, and it is not as easy to keep that motivation with obstacles. IUP has been fortunate to have students and athletes back on campus for now, so Anderson and her teammates are taking full advantage of that just in case the tides turn and do not allow students on campus. With Anderson and her fellow Hawks working out together as well as planning strategically, you can be sure for a successful upcoming season for the Crimson Hawks.
Sticking with the team, Anderson was handed the question what her and her squad could work on as a whole to make a very successful season happen in the near future.
“I feel like as a team, we need to work on communicating a bit more on the field,” said Anderson. “It can help us know more about when people are on our backs and if it is safe to turn the ball.”
This squad performed at a high-level last season and finished with a 10-9 record. They made it to the PSAC playoff quarterfinals where they were defeated 1-2 by Slippery Rock.
They are close to accomplishing greatness, and some small tweaks are necessary for this squad to take their play to the next level. Players like Anderson are aware of this and are taking the right steps towards making progress. Many will find it impossible to succeed and take their games to the next level without communication, and Anderson is aware of this fact. She knows many teams don’t succeed is because of they lack communication at times. With this addressed, the top teams of the PSAC West better be on the watch for the Hawks in the future.
With communication being heavily emphasized, this squad is hopeful that this can put them over-the-top against PSAC rivals like Slippery Rock.
“I believe Slippery Rock will be our strongest competition this year,” said Anderson. “We have a grudge on them since tournament play, I think it would be amazing if we came out on top over them this season.”
In life, when you set team goals, success happens will surely follow. With the power of communication happening for the Hawks, this could lead them to victories over their arch rivalry, Slippery Rock.
The Rock posted an 18-4 overall record last fall and dominated the PSAC West. The key to beating complete teams like The Rock, is having better team play.
Team play is very important, and the first step towards playing better as a team is improving everyone on an individual level. Anderson was thrown the question about how she could improve offensively, defensively or having a different mindset.
“For this season, I am working on improving my placement shooting as an offensive player, and I also plan on building my conditioning some more,” said Anderson.
Shooting is crucial for this squad. If they want to compete against powerhouse teams, they need to be able to put up points in bunches. Despite the abnormal situation that is plaguing this team right now, Anderson and her squad are doing everything in their power to improve as a squad. Players are holding themselves accountable at an individual level and are working on improving their communication to improve as a unit.
If they can keep up this mindset, IUP will be the team to beat in the PSAC West next spring.