Ozimek adjusts to COVID-19 as freshman student-athlete

OSU Track and Field freshman jumper Taylor Ozimek poses in her uniform. Ozimek, originally from Illinois, is a walk on for the program.

The freshman year for a college athlete is both an exciting and difficult year. On top of being in a new learning environment, sometimes in a different state or country, the students also have to get adjusted to being on a new sports team with new faces. Just ask Oregon State freshman Track and Field jumper Taylor Ozimek, a native of Glenview, Illinois.

“It was scary. It was a lot different than my team in high school. I felt out of place for a while but eventually seemed to find a group of people I liked and worked with”, Ozimek said about her first few weeks with the team. 

Like many other freshmen, Ozimek was enjoying her first season with the Beavers, being able to compete in several offseason Track and Field tournaments as a jumper. 

“It was going so well. I felt so confident with my track season, especially being a walk on. I was the only walk-on,” Ozimek said. “Just to be able to go to Seattle and go to all these away meets, and then probably go to California and the outdoor season. I was looking forward to it. That and getting closer with some of the girls.”

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her season was cut short, along with so many other student-athletes across the country. But Ozimek realized that she would still have another chance at a track season, while her other teammates were faced with the harsh reality of it all being over. 

“I didn’t even think about myself. It sucked to be a freshman, but you have to think about the seniors and their last year. As a freshman, I have years to go, I’m still dipping my feet in,” Ozimek said. “But for the seniors, I just feel terrible for them.” 

After staying at her home in Glenview for two weeks after spring break, Ozimek decided to return back to Corvallis to finish up the remainder of the academic year, partially due to the fact that Illinois is in a different time zone than Oregon. 

“I was working on Oregon time but in Illinois, so I would get up late and do my workout pretty late. My earliest class is at 10, so I would have until noon to goof off,” Ozimek said. “That wasn’t really fun because I would work late and sleep in late. My whole schedule just got shifted. But since I got back here, it’s a lot nice because I’m in the same time zone as all my classes.”  

And because of the change of both location and time, her daily routine has surely shifted. 

“My daily routine is based around schoolwork. I have the routine of getting up, having breakfast, going to class, get lunch, go to class, and doing some work. That’s really all I’ve been doing, I’m still staying on the grind,” Ozimek said.

And with being a Division 1 athlete, Ozimek still maintains a workout regimen, although that itself has proven to be a challenge. 

“For track, they give us workouts. It’s hard to do for lifting, because it’s obviously easier to go to a gym, but because we don’t have that option anymore, they gave us bands and a jump rope, but that’s still not enough,” Ozimek said. “You do what you do, but it’s not the same.” 

Lastly, Ozimek expressed excitement for next year, with the potential return of the Track and Field season. 

“I think we should have one,” Ozimek said. “Things are looking better out here. I understand how competition could be dangerous, so we should be cautioned about that because of large groups of people. I’m excited about it. I’m still going back and forth on a few things, but overall, I think people should be excited about the year. Hopefully by spring, everything will calm down and we can do what we came here to do.”

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