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This photo is taken by a HC St. Law U member (Lauren Donohue) when she was studying abroad last semester.
Lauren Donohue

How Being a Student Athlete Prepared Me for this Roller Coaster Ride

Name: Lauren Donohue

Class: 2021 (Junior)

Team: Varsity Volleyball


The past week has definitely been a roller-coaster.  I had been in Vienna, Austria at the beginning of last week and my parents and sister were actually visiting me while abroad.  We were all keeping an eye on COVID-19 and the updates. We had received an email from the university earlier that week that told us that we could continue with online classes if we felt more comfortable but that the program was going to still run.  By the end of the week, President Trump announced a travel ban and within the next 24 hours, the majority of the SLU students on my program, including myself, returned back to the states. Fortunately, my family was with me which made the process much easier.  However, one of my roommates woke up in the middle of the night to her parents calling her with her flight information that was in 5 hours. It was an abrupt transition and hard to properly leave. We had a day to process that our entire semester was going to be uprooted and that we were going to miss out on travel opportunities and historical elements in the city of Vienna.  It was very disappointing as a student that has heard countless stories of amazing abroad experiences, but at the same time, we all realized that going home to be with our families was the best option.

Since being back home, there are a lot of questions that have come up.  How will we get the textbooks that we left in Vienna? How will we be able to have classes with a time difference? How will we be graded on the experiential learning, such as city walks and museum tours that we were supposed to complete?  The Austro-American Institute has assured us not to worry and that they have all of our professors working on online alternatives. We are very fortunate that we have the technology to continue our studies from different locations. As a student, I will definitely miss the typical small classroom environment and being able to have in-person meetings with professors as I am sure my fellow classmates will as well.       

As a student-athlete on the varsity volleyball team at St. Lawrence, roller-coasters are quite familiar to us.  The average play in volleyball is around 5-15 seconds, which is pretty quick if you think about it. We have prepared mentally for ups and downs whether we realize that or not.  I have no doubt in my mind that the Saints volleyball team will come out stronger than ever and on the other side of this adversity. We are a very close group of friends and teammates and we always have each others’ back on and off the court.  Although it is a challenge not being able to practice together and be on campus right now, we always have a group chat going where anyone is free to express how they are feeling. We have all been trying out new apps that are either workout, mental health, or self-care related and love reporting back to each other on new ideas we have found to stay safe and also healthy during this period of social distancing.  I know that we are all missing the gym atmosphere like crazy right now, but we have also found a bunch of new at-home routines that are effective and doable with little to no equipment. 

When the team returns in the fall, I think there will be a lot of gratitude for the little things that our team shares.  This experience, although it did not go according to plan, is uncharted territory for all of us and we understand that there needs to be flexibility on all accounts.  We do not know when this roller-coaster is going to end, but the Saints volleyball team is well equipped for the journey ahead of us and we are excited for the chance to be together again.


[This article was originally posted on Saints Athletics on March 27, 2020. View here.]

I am a Senior at St. Lawrence University.  I am a Psychology major with minors in Film Studies & Sports Studies and Exercise Science.  I am the captain of the Womens Varsity Volleyball team and am a Senior Admissions Fellow on campus.  I enjoy sunny weather and iced coffee from Dunkin :)   
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