Women’s soccer persevering through COVID-19


Chico State Women's Soccer Team

Erin Woods (left) and Susanna Garcia (right) celebrate after scoring a goal

With high aspirations of practicing in the spring, the Wildcats are eager to get back on the field.

The women’s soccer team finished with an 8-8-2 record in 2019 and were ready to improve on that going into the 2020 season before COVID-19 demolished the possibility.

COVID-19 has been agonizing on student athletes, and players are doing their best to stay in shape for their potential season in the spring.

“I have an at-home gym so I’ve been able to lift a lot,” said Susanna Garcia, a junior at Chico State. “It’s great to go to my gym after classes to relieve some stress.  I also run through my neighborhood throughout the week.”

Hunter Casperson, a third-year transfer student from Folsom Lake Junior College, enjoys trying various workouts.

“I try to switch things up when it comes to my workouts so that I don’t lose motivation,” Casperson said. “I try to create new and different goals for myself. One of my goals was able to do pull ups without a band. Now that I’ve accomplished that, I’m working towards a new goal.”

Head coach Kim Sutton’s main priority is keeping her players safe, both physically and mentally.

“Honestly, I’m not really sure how much work they are doing because we feel like it is not the most important thing for them right now,” Sutton said. “We are mostly worried about their mental health and making sure they are doing their homework and that they are safe.”

Although there are restrictions on team practices, players are staying connected on a regular basis.

“We are doing things on Zoom and created Rookie/Veteran pairings,” Sutton said. “Each freshman has a veteran or two that they are paired with and the vet’s job is to connect with them every week. We are giving them prompts about things to talk about to help them have a real conversation over the phone or Zoom. Not texting.”

Casperson believes the lack of team practices will bring everyone together even more when they are eventually able to practice again.

“Even though we aren’t together, we are all dying to be back on the field,” Casperson said. “When we finally are able to come back, I think everyone will be more united and passionate than ever.”

Garcia understands the importance of team chemistry, and is confident they won’t miss a beat.

“It’s definitely something we have to consider not being together all the time, however we are doing everything possible to build relationships,” Garcia said. “We especially focus on building connections with freshmen. We go on walks, have phone calls and go on Zoom.”

2020 would have been Garcia’s third season playing at Chico State, she is unfamiliar to life without soccer.

“It feels different having no soccer,” Garcia said. “I took on more classes, so school has been taking most of my time. It makes me sad not practicing everyday with my teammates and coaches and getting to do what I love most. However, I have taken this opportunity to spend more time with family and take on more of my studies.”  

Sutton misses her team tremendously and is proud of the way they are handling COVID-19.

“I dearly miss being around my players and engaging with them,” Sutton said. “I’m really proud of my team for taking COVID-19 seriously and doing a good job staying safe.”

The team is also taking this time to focus on school.

“They have encouraged each other to get good grades,” Sutton said. “If we can’t train we want to have the best GPA in the history of the program so that is the goal right now.”

The Wildcats are doing the best they can to stay ready on and off the field and are hopeful to get out there soon.

 Nick Despotakis can be reached at orionmanagingeditor.com or @nick__despo on Twitter