The Manhattan College women’s basketball team headed into Christmas break in a good position to take on conference play with confidence. The Jaspers went 3–3 in their first six games. Keeping things positive, fifth-year head coach Heather Vulin described training and competing during a pandemic as an adventure.

“It’s uncharted territory, not just for myself, my staff and the players, but for administration and for everybody,” said Vulin. “Every day, it’s a new logistical issue that we’ve never had to deal with before. I especially feel here at Manhattan College, we’re all in this together and we’re working really well together. We’re going to find a way to make it through.”

In most years, the players would arrive on campus in early July for summer workouts, but due to COVID-19 concerns the players did not return to campus until the start of the fall semester in late August. After routine physicals and COVID testing, the players slowly began getting back into game shape.

Vulin and her staff did their utmost to avoid player injuries, so players gradually eased into practicing and playing. There was one false positive on an antigen test, which caused the team to miss one week of practice and four non-conference games.

“We played our first game on a Tuesday and opened [MAAC] conference play on a Friday,” said Vulin. “We definitely were not conference ready when we started conference play. We’re still trying to figure it out in terms of our rotations and our chemistry on the court. I have so much respect for the kids. Besides playing…they’ve stayed on campus to be as risk free as possible.”

The players were allowed to go home for Christmas Eve and Day, but they agreed to keep it to immediate family, wear masks and socially distance.

“They’re constantly sacrificing, and I truly appreciate everything that our student-athletes are doing,” said Vulin. “At the beginning of the year, the conference voted us preseason number one, which is the first time in modern MAAC play that we’ve been picked one.

“The strength of our team is our depth,” she added. “The team inspires me to want to be great. I want to do everything I can to help them be successful on and off the court.”

MAAC play is being scheduled with back-to-back games. When playing teams in New Jersey, the Jaspers prefer to travel back to campus in between. Manhattan is in action this weekend with Friday and Saturday home games against Saint Peter’s University.