Lopes are back in action with some creative adjustments
By: Maria Adams / GCU Staff
The Grand Canyon University’s Women’s Rugby team embarked on their first practice of the year Monday with masks, social distancing, and – oddly enough – pool noodles?
“I had no idea if that was going to work,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Lindsey Mahoney. “It is a crazy time, so we have to make some crazy adjustments.”
Mahoney eagerly anticipated the day the Lopes could return to the practice field. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mahoney had to get creative with practice plans. So, to simulate tackles, players tagged each other with pool noodles.
The squad, heavy with freshmen and newcomers, was at first skeptical of Mahoney’s inventive ideas. By the time the drill was over, the players were out of breath and laughing with excitement.
While Mahoney is thrilled to have the team back on the field working on skills, there are still pieces of the game that will be hard to train for. The Lopes’ first test at live play will not happen until at least next semester when conference play begins in January.
“It is going to be a struggle to see how we mesh as a team,” said Mahoney. “Most of these girls have not played together before.”
Even though this semester of practice will look dramatically different, Mahoney is choosing to focus the team on aspects of the game they can control.
“Mental health is incredibly important right now,” said Mahoney. “High performers have strong minds.”
Mahoney has brought Taylor Hamlet, a mental performance coach, on staff as a resource for the players. Hamlet will guide the girls through a reflection during the last five minutes of every practice. Additionally, each Friday will feature a yoga session and a mental health workshop.
“I want our culture to be set,” said Mahoney. “I want them to feel like they are a family. That is something the virus cannot take from us.”
Culture is not a new concept for the Lopes. Last spring, Mahoney credited the Lopes’ early success, before the season was cut short, to the core values and culture the team had implemented. With an influx of new faces this year, Mahoney hopes to continue to improve on what they started last year.
“It has been a hard couple of weeks, trying to get young girls plugged in,” said Mahoney. “But I am really excited about the community we are going to build and the love the coaching staff is going to pour out into these girls.”
Interested in joining GCU Women’s Rugby? Contact the coach to learn more!