WLU runner Brenden Sands stays positive despite COVID-19 setbacks


Jared Ullom

Brendan Sands is on his morning run near Bethany, W.Va. Sands is building his base in running for the upcoming season.

Brenden Sands, a sophomore at West Liberty University, remains positive despite the cancellation of both the 2020 Track and Cross Country seasons.
Many athletes across the nation have seen their seasons ripped out from underneath of them. The difficulty stands with practicing to get better, with no way of showing that in competition. What sets Sands out from the rest is his ability to remain positive throughout this pandemic.
Sands is a sophomore Track and Field and Cross Country runner at West Liberty. After receiving the news in March that his track season was canceled, Sands and the rest of the team hoped for a 2020 cross country campaign. Just a few weeks out of the start of fall classes, his hopes ceased when the fall season was canceled. “When the news was broken to me, I wasn’t all that saddened or shocked, simply because I was able to see it coming,” Sands said. “Of course, not having a season is hard [but] it’s important to stay motivated for when things kick back up again.”
Uncertain times have called for multiple changes for Sands as a runner. The team was asked to run with masks on, on campus, in order to practice together. Sands explained that the oxygen demand for running is high, especially with higher efforts of training, which makes it difficult to run with a mask on. Shortly after, the team was no longer able to practice together as mandated by the University. Sands commented on how this affected his team, “I can definitely see how the team values being able to train together more since we haven’t been able to bond over a season as we normally would.”

To counterbalance the losses of 2020, Sands has searched for ways to stay positive by increasing his productivity. He has dedicated more time to studying, communicating to new people via social media, and focusing on his athletics through the mist of this pandemic. “It’s definitely different not being able to socialize and explore in the ways I could prior to the pandemic, but I’ve surely learned to appreciate the little things in life more because of it,” he said.
Sands has taken his time to appreciate the little things in his life. He is participating in a sport that is fortunately not really affected by COVID-19 He is still able to enjoy his sport everyday, despite not being able to compete like usual. He said, “There is always something better on the horizon. In any given situation, you have two options. You could either walk with your head down, or you could turn it to the brighter side.”
Sands advice to those who are struggling to stay positive during these times is to “do something that makes you happy every day, no matter how big or small.” Sands attributes his positivity to this.

Long distance running was introduced to Sands in the fifth grade, and the next year he joined the middle school cross country team. He attended Wheeling Park High School and ran cross country all four years. During his senior year of high school, he discussed the opportunity of running at the collegiate level with West Liberty University Cross Country Head Coach Justin Simpson and signed on to join the Hilltoppers.

Sands now runs for the West Liberty University Hilltoppers. He is in the midst of his second season with the black and gold and looks forward to continuing his career. “Running is a sport that, quite literally, chases progress, and I’m all for it,” he said.