As told to Jennifer Zeleski
“In February, one of our team doctors from the USWNT [U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team] gave us a presentation on COVID-19. It was great to get information directly from a doctor and be able to ask questions. I remember thinking at the time that there was no way the Olympics would be affected, but then came the sobering news that an international official who attended our game had tested positive.
Within a few days, I felt like there was a new reality. When I left for the Washington Spirit’s pre-season camp in Florida, there were people wiping down their seats on the plane, and when I arrived, I couldn’t hug my teammates or be as warm as I wanted to be. There was barely anyone on our flight home [as I returned home after the camp was canceled].
My other teammates hadn’t arrived in the DMV for the upcoming season yet, and my husband, Drew Skundrich, had already left to report to his season with Sacramento Republic FC in California, so unfortunately, now it’s just me here in Maryland [where I live].
Everyday occurrences have a sense of new normal. I went to train at a local school field and a police officer asked me to leave. When I run outside on the sidewalk, people who pass move away to put more space between us. Even when I went to the grocery store, there was an employee designated to wipe my cart down for me. It’s not easy to stay motivated, but I take comfort in the fact that this is something everyone is affected by.
It’s OK to acknowledge that I struggle, and then try to convert it all into an opportunity, a challenge and a time of growth. For now, things are done individually and without structure. I can take my morning coffee more leisurely, and go to a nearby tennis court to kick the ball around.
But what I’ve been looking forward to most is seeing my husband, my family, my teammates, our staff and our fans. I miss hugs and high-fives. Yes, I was hoping to make it to the Olympics this summer, but now I just have to adjust the timeline in my head a little bit. The same goes for the Washington Spirit’s 2020 season too. Now I have more time to prepare, and the team has more time to prepare. I know that we will appreciate playing now more than ever. I can’t wait for the day we can all be enjoying another game in the stadium.”
The 2020 Summer Olympics, which were originally scheduled to kick off July 24—and would have included a number of athletes from Northern Virginia—were officially postponed on March 24. The games would have brought hundreds of thousands of spectators from around the world to Tokyo. The Washington Spirit’s season, which would have included games played at the new Segra Field soccer stadium in Leesburg, was also put on hold. As of press time, there was no official word on if or when the season would move forward.