BOZEMAN — For Montana State University students and athletes, being able to come back to the facilities has been an adjustment.
“What we’re trying to do is just help them adjust," said Montana State University director of student-athlete wellness Aaron Grusonik. "Luckily things aren’t going 100 percent full bore. Just learning the protocols, learning the drills when they come into the fieldhouse, getting used to wearing a mask when you’re working out. All of those different things.”
On Tuesday, Grusonik discussed the impact of recent events surrounding COVID-19, which forced students and athletes to change their lives significantly.
“They live such a regimented life as athletes and as students, and once all of those restrictions were kind of taken away and or not there as noticeably, if you don’t have a coach or somebody who has a schedule for you, things fall to the wayside pretty quickly and easily," he said. "Just helping them have a schedule and keep a schedule, that was something that was workable for them.”
The Bobcat Wellness team is made up of different faculty members who maintain contact with students through Zoom meetings. They also identify students who might need mental help.
“We really have a concerted effort to reach out to the athletes who are kind of fallen, more silent during those times, making sure they had those contacts throughout the week," said Grusonik.
It hasn’t just been COVID-19 affecting students. Recent events surrounding what happened to George Floyd have inspired students to take the lead.
“It’s a really good opportunity for us all to sit down and listen to each other, especially listening to our student-athletes of color and their experience and what it’s been through their whole lives," Grusonik said.
The student-athlete leaders have had some big and small ideas to bring to the table on how they can make it through and grow during this difficult time, such as sharing their personal experiences.
“A newsletter which goes out on a bi-monthly basis which showcases important messages that can be LGBTQ issues in sports, women in sport issues, issues with black athletes or students of color," said Grusonik
For Grusonik, he knows that it takes a team of professionals on his wellness staff to produce results.
“I could help (student-athletes) with some of their mental health issues, but without a team of people, I couldn’t really do much more than scratch the surface,”he said.