When spring break arrived, UR’s varsity softball team prepared to head to California, for an opportunity to compete, focus on training, and bond as a team.
Then the shutdowns began.
“On Wednesday we got word that [UR] was moving to online classes and that our sports seasons were being cancelled,” said Head Coach Margaret Yerdon-Grange “We had a team meeting to break the news, and as you can imagine there were a lot of tears that day.”
The team brought in support from a sports psychologist on the UR staff, and found support in their coaches and each other. “[Yerdon-Grange] talked with us about how proud she was with the work we put in to get ready for the season and that it was heartbreaking that we didn’t get the chance to see it pay off,” said junior Jennifer Carson. “After that our whole team sat in the locker room for about 15 minutes just crying over the season and time we lost.”.
With the closure of campus and most off-campus gyms, players are doing everything they can to stay in shape. “Our lifts were changed so that we don’t use weights like we would at school,” said first-year Emily Sharlach. “[Our coaches] send out activities we can do over Zoom like Saturday morning yoga.”
Despite the distance, Carson said, the team remains connected. “We have a Snapchat group, GroupMe, and text group, so we are pretty much in constant contact as a team, and everyone also talks to each other individually as well.”
Players and coaches are setting goals for next spring. Coaching staff has to figure out how to attract and select high school recruits who will be unable to play their own seasons or see UR teams practice.
“This is certainly going to alter this year’s recruiting cycle and force coaches to think outside the box on ways they can attract prospective student athletes,” said Yerdon-Grange. “The hard part for coaches is that they might not be able to get out and see recruits play live.”
Players also are being forced to reflect on their goals with their remaining time in collegiate sports.
“As an upcoming senior I know I will appreciate every single game, practice, and lift so much more knowing it could be taken away any second,” said Carson. “Every senior will be playing each game like it is their last, because based on how this year went, it could be.”