As the years go by, some of us get better, some of us fall behind, and some of us stay the same.
Ayanna Dublin consistently continues to get better on and off the court. The graduate student plans on receiving her Masters in sports leadership, but before she does that, she has some unfinished business. Dublin understands the hand her Huskies were dealt upon the cancellation of their season mid-playoffs due to COVID-19. However, Dublin is ready for what this season entails. She explains, “In this new normal, I would say the challenges we faced were getting back into basketball shape the first couple of weeks we were back on campus. Another thing is not having access to our locker room at all and having to practice with face masks on which is not fun, but we got used to it.”
To play with a face mask on is unheard of… unless you’re playing football or hockey of course. Nowadays, everyone is wearing face masks in their respective sport. These face masks are very different when compared to football and hockey. It leads us to ponder about who the real trendsetters are.
It will be no easy task leading this young Husky team into competition; however, Dublin is confident in her abilities as a leader to bring this team together. Dublin is one of the two seniors on this very young Husky team. Dublin emphasizes that one’s class distinction does not limit the amount of influence one may have on the team. She stresses to all her teammates to use their voices and to understand that this is critical to ensure team success. She states, “I don’t care if you’re a freshman or someone who is a senior in high school that signed but not on the team yet, your voice matters. This builds trust because for me personally speaking I trusted the upperclassmen who told me to speak up because it was like I had a role on the team. And it’s very important to know this, especially during your first or second year as a collegiate athlete, because if you don’t, it’s easy to lose the love you once had for the game.”
Unprecedented times can get the best of all of us. The pressures the world faced during COVID-19 were uncontrollable, especially for the collegiate athlete. Dublin explains that it took her a while to pick up a basketball when she returned home mid-playoffs due to COVID-19. To play an entire regular season, and then have the post season cancelled due to COVID-19, stripping all chances for a run at a conference championship is extremely disheartening. Dublin asserts, “I just didn’t have the urge to do anything from the season ending the way it did. Granted I have a hoop in the back of my house but with everything that was going on I didn’t even want to look at a basketball. But I had to get back to it. It was a must. I worked on my mid-range jumper and handling the ball because at the position I play as a small forward, there will be larger post players who would have to step out and guard me. So having that explosive first step will help tremendously.”
The Huskies are not just dealing with the issues of COVID-19, the team faces a new format of scheduling. Each conference game will be played in a series of two games, one home, one away. The two games are played either back to back or played every other day due to traveling. With the new scheduling format, it allows for teams to be safer because of COVID-19. However, in the eyes of the players it may provide some difficulty as Dublin wonders,“If we win the first game, coming out and beating them a second time will be very tough. I feel like that’s one of the hardest things to accomplish as an athlete. Second, we do not have our high school bodies anymore that used to play six AAU games in one day. So fatigue is going to kick in and be a challenge.”
The Huskies have had two sets of conference games postponed. Although the team is 1-5, they look to build off their last game, which was a win at Hofstra. Dublin and the Huskies will be facing off at James Madison University on January 23, 2021. For more on Ayanna Dublin, follow her on Instagram @ ayadubs.
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