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With training options limited, Red Stars players ponder whether to remain in Chicago or head home

Danielle Colaprico, Zoe Morse and Alyssa Mautz are among those who had to make that decision.

Zoe Morse #14 of the Chicago Red Stars drives past Averie Collins #16 of the Washington Spirit in the first round of the NWSL Challenge Cup at Zions Bank Stadium on June 27, 2020 in Herriman, Utah.
Zoe Morse #14 of the Chicago Red Stars drives past Averie Collins #16 of the Washington Spirit in the first round of the NWSL Challenge Cup at Zions Bank Stadium on June 27, 2020 in Herriman, Utah.
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

The offseason always looks different for every player in the NWSL.

Some players head home to train closer to friends and family, while others opt to stay in town and train with teammates leading up to preseason in February.

This year is an exception, and there isn’t one player’s offseason that is going as expected.

“It’s a little weird right now,” midfielder Danielle Colaprico said.

Rookie Zoe Morse, coming off a season that gave her opportunities she may not have otherwise received, is trying to capitalize on that growth.

But how, when gym activity is limited and group training isn’t entirely encouraged?

Morse, who is home in East Lansing, Michigan, with family, played in six games for the Red Stars this season, started four and played the full 90 minutes three times.

She plans to return to Chicago in the coming weeks. The focus will shift from winding down after this unorthodox season to improving every day. Her main area of focus will be her one-on-one defending.

“I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to train for the past couple of weeks,” Morse said. “A lot of the stuff I need to improve on is personal development, so I can do that alone. We have a good amount of teammates in Chicago right now, so we can get out to a field and train some things together.”

Colaprico is one of those teammates who chose to stay in Chicago through the offseason. Typically, she would spend a portion of her down time back home in New Jersey. But due to COVID-19, she altered her plans.

The most significant challenge for Colaprico has been the lack of structure in her offseason routine. The team currently has access to a local gym in Chicago, but working out there isn’t mandatory.

Because the Red Stars no longer are taking part in organized group activities, they are not being tested regularly for COVID-19. The safety aspect of meeting at a local gym and working out in a mask has played a part in some players opting to train in other ways.

“Fortunately, I live with Morgan [Gautrat],” Colaprico said. “So we can easily train together. I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t living with somebody already who I felt comfortable going out and training with.”

Alyssa Mautz, a veteran stalwart with the Red Stars, has spent all of the 2020 season recovering from her second ACL tear.

She was ruled out for the Challenge Cup at the end of June, and after undergoing surgery, has been rehabbing in Cincinnati. Mautz plans to return to Chicago after Thanksgiving to begin offseason training with teammates.

She said she’s thankful the unorthodox season meant she didn’t miss a standard set of games. But the challenges of training and rehabbing during the pandemic have been daunting.

Mautz underwent surgery alone, and following her surgery, it took a few failed attempts before she found a physical therapist she was able to work well with.

The last three months, Mautz has spent working with her third physical therapist. Her second experience recovering from an ACL tear has been significantly more challenging, she said, but she’s confident she’ll be set for preseason training.

“I will be ready for most of the season, no doubt about it,” Mautz said. “It may take me a little bit longer than last time, but my mindset is just to be ready as soon as possible. I want to be clicking with my teammates and be back moving like a soccer player again.”