JOANNE LEE, Sports Editor — Like many students at Denison and across the country, Hannah Bradvica ‘22, has struggled with mental health and feeling burnt out during the semester, especially with COVID-19.
However, she has found a sense of normalcy and routine through Tennis, being surrounded by her teammates and friends, knowing that tennis practices is one of the things that she knows she can look forward to every day.
Bradvica ‘22 is a political science major who started playing when she was 9, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to play in college until she visited Denison and met the team who were “super warm and welcoming and made [her] want to be part of the team.”
In tennis, the difference between being a good and great player really comes down to the mental aspect as once you get to a certain point, the skills and technique are already there. Bradvica ‘22 describes herself as a generally anxious person, prone to overthinking, but it became a lot more relaxing and something that she just enjoyed when she came to Denison.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself. Who I am, what I stand for, and what I believe in. Tennis has been a space where I’ve been able to develop my own voice and identity, instead of feeling like I need to conform, as I’ve stepped into more leadership roles and stepping up as a person. It’s great because tennis is a sort of microcosm of my life, since the same dynamics in life play out in tennis, but on a smaller scale, which makes it really translatable.”
The team found ways to stay connected with zoom calls over the break, and even did a zumba class virtually, which has been easy for her since they aren’t just her teammates, but they’re her good friends.
“There were days when we lacked motivation and felt frustration because it felt like there was nothing to play and practice for but we found ways to incorporate new ideas and make things interesting. We had a dual match with the men’s tennis team and I even started new traditions like Fun and Factual Fridays to break up the monotony a little.”
She has felt more appreciative for her team and the ability to continue playing tennis at Denison, especially this semester, since she knows this is not an opportunity that many students have, as it is the one thing that remains constant in her life amongst the craziness and uncertainty.
“With COVID, I’ve definitely noticed that myself and those around me have higher anxiety levels than usual and there is an overwhelming feeling of being really burned out. Mental health is something that I’ve tried to be more open about this semester, and I try to really put myself first and prioritize my own well-being, like asking for extensions, which is something that I’d never done before.”
After Denison, Bradvica ‘22 is planning on going to law school, and work in a field related to criminal justice to use her voice for what she believes in.
“Denison has helped to figure out what I’m passionate about which to me is speaking about the way the criminal justice system operates and addressing the problems and policy which currently isn’t equitable to everyone and only to select groups of people.”
It has not been easy coming to terms that life is not normal, but she is learning to understand and be okay that things will be different, while trying to find a routine in ways she can. Bradvica ‘22 feels lucky to be able to play the sport she loves and be surrounded by her peers, she emphasizes that everyone is struggling, but some may just be better than others at hiding their feelings.
“Sports can and have helped me, but at the end of the day, there’s so much going on and I think it’s really important to recognize that it’s hard for anyone to really take care of themselves, and finding ways to find peace in the uncertainty.”