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“In a strange way, I was prepared”: Lynch’s isolation diary

AFLW Bulldog Katie Lynch penned a diary for westernbulldogs.com.au throughout her seven-day isolation period.

Saturday 6/11/21

Whilst I usually wake up at 7am on a Saturday morning to get to training, this time, I was awake slightly earlier than my scheduled alarm. Perhaps because I knew I had to make a meeting that I had planned with team psychologist Chris Shen before I began training preparation. My mind was not anywhere else - except making sure I got ready and out the door on time to catch up for an outstanding chat with ‘Shenny’. It was kit on, and bag packed before I had even bothered to check my phone at this stage.

When going for a quick time check, I noticed a message sent late the night before in our players’ inbox from teammate Brooke Lochland, which felt seemingly unusual. It read that training was cancelled and we were all directed to isolate after being exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 two nights ago at Thursday’s training session.

Momentarily, my emotions were absent as I transitioned into a bit of shock. While I was shocked, I cannot say I was surprised given the current COVID-19 climate. It felt like a moment in time had finally arrived and so in a strange way, I was prepared for the news. No further information was given at this stage. I just hoped that everyone was safe and okay until we heard more.

Tuning in for about an hour over video conference, head doc Naomi Harris did a great job addressing the program about the situation and what this meant for us. ‘Burkey’ spoke about the importance of doing your best to move on from what seems like an inconvenience and turn it into an opportunity to learn and grow in other ways. Resonating with those words, the scene was set for the next six days!

00:28 Mins
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Sunday 7/11/21

Having most of Saturday to process and visualize my upcoming week, it was a neutral feeling waking up on Sunday. I felt like I was in a state of acceptance where I understood the landscape we found ourselves in.

The players had a quick check-in via video conference at about midday, where each of us spoke about our feelings towards the situation and what we had been getting up to. Spirits were high, despite the circumstances, which is reflective of the team’s usual attitude. The girls were having a laugh and chatting about any plans they have. Nell Morris-Dalton and Sarah Hartwig said they’d been into sewing so far, whilst Ellie Blackburn, unfortunately, was making TikTok’s. It was hard to watch to be honest…

Later that afternoon, after passing some time playing NBA2k on Xbox, I decided to crack into a cross-training session and some weights. As my teammates would empathise with, I didn’t feel like a stranger to the home gym setup - battling away with the ropes and dreaded two-minute plank holds.

Monday 8/11/21

My sleep was interrupted throughout the night and travelling into Monday morning. Possibly due to a knock in routine where usually I’d be waking up much earlier - either going to work or getting daily tasks done. Recently finishing uni for the year and unable to work from home, I was suddenly spared with a lot of free time. Out of boredom, I did household chores at a sluggish pace before I got ready to head out for what felt like the main event of the day – driving to Whitten Oval to get PCR-tested.

I made my dog Pippa keep me company for the drive out west. It was nice to see everyone’s faces as I arrived for the drive-through test. I had an unorthodox conversation with player development manager ‘Heff’, speaking at slightly heightened volumes from across the carpark as you may, or may not be able to imagine. As AFLW players, getting tested has become a regular practice for us now –just standard procedure. Once back home, it was another cross-training session and some rehab in the garage to round out the day.

 

03:38 Mins
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Ash Guest gives us an insight to what her day is looking like while in isolation.

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Tuesday 9/11/21

With no alarms set, I had a sleep in on Tuesday morning. Especially off the back of a bad sleep Monday night I wasn’t surprised when I woke up in the latter parts of the morning. Today I made it my aim to get in touch and organise a couple of remote catchups for the next few days.

I got in touch with my backline coach, Mel Hickey, and pencilled in a time to catchup about preseason thus far. Gifted with some sunshine, I decided to soak up as much as possible and did some reading outside. Especially on nice days, I enjoy reading outside because it relaxes me in the sense I feel immersed in my imagination. So, I spent a while reading my current assignment. A psychological thriller that had me entertained for the afternoon.

When 5:30pm hit, it was time to jump online for a team meeting and group gym session. Burkey presented to us for the most part where he quizzed us on aspects of our game style. Although I would much rather be attending these meetings in person, I still felt like I was connected. Maybe it was because I knew my situation was no different to anyone else on the call, and that hopefully I was going to see everyone very soon.

Strength and conditioning coach Ben Walker then took charge of a group gym session. It involved a lot of plyometric and power training, to mimic as much of the football training we were missing in different movements. It was interesting seeing how the girls were set up. Some were in their living rooms whilst others took themselves into their backyards or garages. For me, it was in the garage where I had just enough equipment (except for a few makeshift pieces) to get through a “normal” session. Bonnie Toogood and Hannah Scott had the best setup by far, and not short of any equipment. Must be nice.

Wednesday 10/11/21

Wednesday morning started off slow. The fifth morning at home had me a little bit deprived of energy. The thought of going for a walk or just a trip to the shops crossed my mind a few times, but knowing I couldn’t do so meant my motivation was out of touch.

I jumped on another video call with Mel (Hickey) at 10:30am, and began our chat discussing how we were both feeling. It was comforting to hear that Mel was having a similar experience. We covered how preseason had been going so far, what is to come, and some personal feedback on how I was going. It was great to hear her thoughts.

After wrapping up that chat, I decided I needed to burn some energy in some way. I grabbed a footy and did some basic skills in the garage. I set myself a challenge for how long I could bounce the footy against the wall. Despite being a frustrating challenge to set myself, my mind appreciated the stimulation it needed. That afternoon I unsurprisingly found myself on the Xbox again, broken up with scrolls on TikTok. It was a subtle reminder of how I spent a lot of my time in Melbourne’s lockdowns.

05:39 Mins
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Kirsty Lamb's Insta takeover

On day 5 of isolation Kirsty Lamb took over the @bulldogsw instagram to give an insight to what her day entailed.

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Thursday 11/11/21 

I began Thursday in a good mindset knowing it was (hopefully) the final day of our quarantine. I took my time in the morning, catching up on life admin and a few tedious tasks while I ate breakfast and enjoyed a coffee. One of my good friends gave me a phone call and we chatted like we usually do, catching each other up on our lives and anything interesting.

As I moved into the afternoon, it was time to set off for the last COVID test needed to ensure we can safely come out of quarantine on Friday. Coming home from the hour-round trip, I knew it was time for another cross-training and rehab session in the garage to get my body moving. Something I noticed in particular at this stage of the week was that my body felt far tighter than usual. I imagine because my sedentary behaviour had increased, and my activeness had decreased forcing my muscles to seize up.

When 5:30pm hit, it was another team call to run through some education, and a mobility session run by Ben. In line groups, we chatted about values, and learnt more about each other in a small vulnerability exercise which I really enjoyed. Ben’s mobility session was something my body was looking forward to. He ran us through a series of exercises before finishing with mindfulness.

At the end of the call, it was time for dinner and a wind down. I watched some Netflix before heading off to bed – hoping for good news on Friday.

 

Friday 12/11/21

I woke up at about 8am to the news I had been hoping for – a message from Doctor Naomi stating that everyone in the program had tested negative to COVID-19 and we were freed from isolation.

It was a relief to hear we would be able to return to training and life as normal again. I spent the rest of my day preparing for our first training session back at Whitten Oval, and can’t wait to train alongside my teammates again. Go Bulldogs!

 

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