Get to know our Shark Athletes

RJ Sunahara is a business management major from Cleveland, OH. He is a redshirt sophomore on the men’s basketball team at NSU.

 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a student-athlete?

“It’s been hard being a student-athlete. I couldn’t really work out as much, but towards the end of quarantine, I got in the gym and was able to work out more. It’s been a unique experience.”

 

How have you stayed connected to your sport despite the inability to play right now?

“We FaceTime and Snapchat all the time. Coaches held Zoom meetings during the quarantine, so socially, our team has been connected through the whole process. We’ve been able to stay connected even though we are apart, and hopefully, we can get back out on the court and start playing [together] again.”

 

How has NSU supported you through the COVID pandemic?

“NSU has been doing a great job of keeping us updated throughout the whole process, letting us know what we need to do as athletes to get back to playing and what they are doing for us to be able to have a season. This whole coronavirus thing is unpredictable, so for them to push [the season] back was a smart move. A lot of schools are canceling, so for us to push it back gives us hope. It’s hard, of course, knowing that we aren’t going to be starting on time, but we are hopeful we will get to play in the spring.”

Kaitlyn Chomko is a senior biology major from Cape Coral, FL. She is also a soccer player on NSU’s women’s soccer team.

 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a student-athlete?

“Our season is supposed to be during the fall, but it has been postponed to the spring. So, for all the new players coming, it is actually a good thing for us because we get to have more time to practice as a team and the newcomers get to know our playing style and we get to know theirs. It also gives us more time to get stronger in the weight room to prepare for the season. I know a lot of people on our team haven’t been physically cleared yet because it’s a whole long process, so we aren’t allowed to practice on the field. We’ve been trying to find other fields around Davie and it’s kind of hard because everyone is in the same position, so everyone is playing on the fields.”

 

How have you stayed connected to your sport despite the inability to play right now?

“I know a lot of people in the Davie area. Our coach told us whoever is in this area can come and practice, but it’s only been a couple of people because we can’t have a big group playing. We haven’t been able to practice as a team yet, and when we do, it’ll be in pods based on who you live with and who you hang out with the most. That way, if someone in your pod gets sick, it won’t affect the whole team.”

 

How has NSU supported you and can continue to support you?

“Our staff and athletic trainers have been very informative with us, telling us everything we have to do, like the guidelines. We are not just keeping ourselves safe, we are keeping the whole team safe. Our coach even said, ‘Here is the workout for the week. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a gym, don’t feel like you have to.’ It’s been good for people who don’t feel comfortable.”

 

Jake Geyer is an exercise and sports science major with a minor in business and marketing. He is also on the NSU men’s soccer team.

 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a student-athlete?

“It affected me right off the bat in the spring having the season canceled all of a sudden. Putting it into perspective to everything that was going on, it wasn’t all that terrible considering we had a season to look forward to. Then, in the summer, things started happening with more suspensions, cancellations and uncertainty. I think the one thing that we tried to focus on was what we can control. What we can control is preparing for whatever comes our way. I’d be lying if I said that it’s not hard to have a season, so much anticipation and for it to be pulled out from under you. That is a very difficult thing, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it makes you realize how thankful you are to even play a college sport, how thankful you are to have so many people support you. Even through all of this, there are so many people reaching out, whether it is from NSU or just player to player. There’s a big support system.”

 

How have you stayed connected to your sport despite the inability to play right now?

“Most of the men’s soccer team is not from the U.S., so we used WhatsApp and FaceTime to communicate. We also always had meetings here and there to see how [everyone was] doing.”

 

How has NSU supported you and can continue to support you?

“I think just by giving me something to look forward to. We are still training with the end goal in mind of being prepared for the spring season. So being a part of NSU athletics definitely gives you that something to look forward to in this time of [uncertainty].”

Madison Cook is a sophomore pre-nursing major for Orlando, FL. She is on NSU’s volleyball team.

 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a student-athlete?

“Having all the new people come in and all the transfers, it’s been nice because we have time to bond as a team and get to know each other and know how people like to play on the court and how they liked to be pushed. [That way, we can] really push each other to be the best we can be for when the season happens. Most of our team has been cleared, so we’ve been able to get in the weight room, but it’s been really hard to find gym time. It’s been tough trying to find somewhere [to train elsewhere].”

 

How have you stayed connected to your sport despite the inability to compete right now?

“I had a high school teacher who had gym access through part of quarantine, so I was able to get some touches in there, but there were times when I couldn’t get in the gym, so it was hard sometimes to do stuff. When we came back to school, nothing was open, so it was tough to do things.”

 

How has NSU supported you and can continue to support you?

“The staff has been doing a very good job of reminding us to do things and being very cautious. Like [when you are] going into physical testing, making sure you wash your hands. I think my teammates have been very supportive if someone isn’t comfortable doing certain things, [letting them know] that that’s okay and just being there for each other.”

Brandee Permenter is a senior legal studies and sports management major from Orlando, FL. She is on NSU’s women’s soccer team.

 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a student-athlete?

“It’s very different because normally we would be in the swing of things and playing games, but right now, we are kind of at a standstill where we aren’t really doing anything. My teammates and I have kind of organized to get together and play a little bit or run and workout, but it is very different from seeing all 26 of us at the same time and not being able to get practice with our coach or anything like that and not being able to get into the weight room and having all of our meetings done through Zoom. Usually, having our meetings together is a way for us to bond again when we get back. It’s very different trying to find ways to bond as a team, especially with the newcomers when we don’t really see each other as much as we would in previous years, except through Zoom. It’s just adjusting to that and hoping that we get to play in January.”

 

How has being on an athletic team at NSU supported you?

“I would say having your teammates still be around. We are all trying to get tested on a weekly basis, so I feel like I am in a safe space with my teammates because we know we are doing everything we can to still have a season. We are doing everything we can to not get COVID-19 and spread it to our other teammates. We all want to play, but we all can’t play right now and we are all trying to figure out how to best deal with that. So, just having that group of people to lean on and still be around [has been really nice].”

 

How can NSU continue to support you?

“I would say more testing on campus, even if you are asymptomatic. I know, for us, we are always leaving to get tested, so if it was available somewhere on campus to get it done, it would be a lot easier and helpful for us, especially since we all want to stay safe and want to play. They are doing all that they can to try to open back up the athletic gym to us and designate times for us to come, but testing, even if we don’t have symptoms, would be helpful.”

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