Masking fear with optimism

Winter athletes explain their hopes, fears and goals for the 2022 winter season

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

Bayley Brennan during a Seattle Pacific women’s basketball game against Northwest Nazarene University. (Courtesy of Marissa Lordahl)

The 2021 fall season of Falcon athletics at Seattle Pacific University gave way to huge successes on all fronts. One of the most memorable moments of the season came from the dominant performance from the women’s soccer team, which ended in them capturing the NCAA Division II West Region Championship. 

Now as the 2022 winter season has begun, the spotlight shifts to a different batch of teams and athletes who are all hoping to bring the same level of success to their respective teams. Many of the winter athletes are excited about the possibilities of the season coming off of the triumphs of the fall. 

Fifth-year pole vaulter from the women’s track team Emily Northey hopes to make the most of her last year at SPU and help her team take home the title as Great Northwest Athletic Conference defending champions. 

I’m hoping to get onto bigger poles, which will come as I improve my speed and technique. Pole vault is such a technical event, so having drills that are specific for each aspect of the vault is really helpful. I would also like to score points at the GNAC championship meets to get us closer to winning the team title,” Northey said. 

Northey expressed her excitement for this season and how she is looking forward to finally getting the indoor season that the team has been unable to have since Feb. 2020. Even though Northey hopes the season will go according to plan, there is an uneasy amount of uncertainty surrounding the continuity of the winter season due to the Omicron variant. 

“I’m definitely nervous about what the next month or so will bring with the increase of COVID cases, but I’m encouraged by the fact that Omicron cases have begun to drop in South Africa where it originated,” Northey said. “Hopefully, we won’t be too far behind. Thankfully, track & field is primarily an outdoor sport, which decreases the risk of spreading COVID.” 

Northey and her team competed in their first indoor track meet of the season on Dec. 11 at the Spokane Invitational. She explained her initial reaction to seeing the new facility built in Spokane, Washington, and the hope it has brought her for the season. 

“I really enjoyed going to our latest meet in Spokane. It was the inaugural meet at the brand-new indoor track facility: The Podium. The facility is absolutely beautiful! I teared up a little bit when I first walked in.  I’m looking forward to having our GNAC championships there!” Northey said. 

Senior track athlete Peace Igbonagwam hopes to keep improving this season and to gain the courage to not hold back at each track meet. 

Peace Igbonagwam at a 2019 track and field event at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. (Courtesy of Andrew Towell)

“My personal goal for this season is to always give 100 percent and never hold back on the track both in training and competition, which I am still working on. Also, my motive is to take each meet as an opportunity to learn and become better. I am hoping to make nationals this year.” Igbonagwam said. 

She is also fearful of the effects that Omicron will have on the remainder of the track and field season, but is optimistic that she will be able to complete her goals and continue to improve with her team by her side. 

Junior point guard on the women’s basketball team Bayley Brennan loves being there for her team just as much as she enjoys playing the game. Some of her favorite moments on the team are when she gets to spend time with her team. 

“I love to play and score, but I also love to cheer my teammates on. The highlight of my season so far has been traveling with the team. Even though the trips can be long and super busy, they are so fun when I’m surrounded by teammates who love to have fun together.” Brennan said. 

The future of the women’s basketball teams’ season is currently unpredictable because of the rise of positive COVID-19 cases on the team. Brennan is afraid of the unknown consequences that this dilemma will bring her team because it could end in them not being able to finish their season. Many people on the team have tested positive, which has led to many games in January being canceled or postponed. 

SPU is not the only team in the league that has had to cancel games due to positive COVID-19 cases, but it is scary for these athletes who can feel the possibility of having “normal” seasons slowly slipping away. The only thing they can do is keep the undying hope for positive outcomes and continue to play their hearts out. 

This is my last year as a student-athlete at SPU, so I want to make the most of it! I’m looking forward to hopefully having a somewhat “normal” season.  I am always working towards my goals, and I want to walk away from this year knowing that I put it all out there for myself and for my team.” Northey said.