UTC Women’s Soccer Player Finds Balance Amidst the Pandemic

By Stephanie Swart, Photo Editor—

Despite the hardships faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga junior Shelby Hash has not let the new normal get the best of her. The Mechanical Engineering major from Franklin, Tennessee still rides her beloved bike both to campus and around Chattanooga nearly every day, and she still gets to practices alongside her teammates on the UTC Women’s Soccer team as number 17.

Hash enjoys dedicating her time to her academic and athletic endeavors because she knows it will all pay off in the long run.

“There’s almost a joy in the grind and like the daily grind and knowing that what I’m doing is worth it. So it’s hard, but it’s also very humbling. I cling on to the fact that I will reap what I sow,” Hash said of her extensive time spent working towards her Mechanical Engineering degree as a student athlete.

Hash has found these Covid times have helped her focus more on her team and her academics. Balancing an especially time consuming major as a full-time student on top of being an active teammate of a Division I soccer team is a challenge in normal times, but the limitations of Covid have allowed for fewer distractions and more flexibility. Her bubbly personality has maintained intact even after experiencing two back to back quarantines that took her away from the soccer field and the classroom.

Hash’s first quarantine was caused by a second hand exposure to a teammate. She spent her days alone on the balcony of her house and practiced playing her ukulele. Not long after the two weeks spent in her Chattanooga house, Hash was ordered by the UTC contact tracing program to quarantine for a second time after another possible Covid-19 exposure. This time, Hash took advantage of the two weeks away from both campus and her team to spend time at home in Franklin, Tennessee with her family and her dogs. She managed to finish the fall semester without a third quarantine order. However, during the two month winter break, Hash eventually contracted Covid-19 from a family member and was quarantined again in Franklin. She experienced intense symptoms and was the sickest she had ever felt before.

Hash explained, “I had shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, I was nauseous and had pounding headaches for nine days straight and just had a complete loss of appetite. I’ve never had zero energy before in my life, but I had zero.”

After three separate quarantine periods, Hash is ready to get back to the soccer field and the classroom.

The UTC Women’s Soccer team usually plays a full season of conference games each Fall semester and a few “friendly” games during the Spring that do not count towards their rankings. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, their ten game season was pushed into the Spring of 2021. They have not played a game together since last February. The soccer team was set to play one Fall game against Georgia State in September, but it was cancelled due to a number of positive Covid-19 cases.

Covid has allowed Hash to appreciate her time with her teammates more than ever. Without the distraction of other extracurriculars and social life happenings, the players have more time to focus on the sport and more time to cherish their bond as teammates.

“We have more time to recover and more time to focus on practice because that’s honestly one of the main times to socialize. it makes it more fun and it makes us more determined to win,” Hash explained. “All of our quarantining will be worth it for sure.”

The first game of the season is set for Feb. 26 against Northern Alabama at the UTC Sports Complex.

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