The season had started. Practice schedules were set, travel plans made, games on the calendar.
Nothing at all.
No practice. No travel. No games. Just go home.
For college athletes, that meant packing up dorm rooms and making arrangements for other living quarters. It meant figuring out how classes were going to look online and what to do to keep their skills sharp.
Area athletes are adjusting.
Tanner Sand, a junior track and field team member at Doane University, is one of them.
“Homework is all I’ve got,” he said with a grin.
The team found out at the end of spring break.
“I was gearing up for the season, but for me, I felt for the seniors. They had no idea the indoor season would be their last,” he said. “It was tough.”
He’s been doing what he can to stay in shape – running hills and completing body-weight circuits. He was going to the Wilber-Clatonia track to jump (he competes in long and triple jumps), but the track is currently undergoing resurfacing, so it’s closed.
Sometimes he runs with his girlfriend, other times with his sister.
“It’s not as much fun when I’m by myself,” he said.
Classes have switched to an online format, which was an easier transition for college students than for high school, Sand said.
“It was geared up for online anyway,” he said.
Exams are different, and presentations have to be recorded and submitted. Classes and team meetings happen via Zoom, he said.
Sand is a biology major, so lab classes had to change dramatically. He said he was disappointed he wasn’t able to do cadaver dissection.
“That’s a very interesting class and pertinent to my career,” he said. He plans to become a physical therapist and is looking for opportunities to take the class next year.
Sand’s schedule is homework in the morning, leaving the afternoon for workouts and work. The new format has actually decreased his workload and allowed him to focus more on what he wants to learn.
“It’s not too bad,” he said. “It takes more self-discipline.”
The track team hasn’t conducted any online meetings but it stays connected through Snapchat, Sand said. He’s enjoyed working at home and spending more time with family.
This summer, he said, he hopes to find a part-time job as a physical therapy technician to get some experience. His current employer, a construction company in Lincoln, has been good about working around his schedule, he said.
Some, like the Doane University baseball team, were on spring break when they learned about the season’s screeching halt, freshmen Brett Meyer and Nate Mensik said.
The Tigers found out during spring break that their season had ended.
Mensik, a graduate of Milford High, said two days after they got home the NAIA started talking about canceling the spring seasons. Two weeks after they got back, the season was done.
“At practice, coach said it could get canceled,” Meyer said.
He was disappointed.
“I was having a good time with it. Baseball is something I’ve always loved,” he said.
Meyer, who graduated from Seward High, had been given a shot on varsity and took advantage of the opportunity.
“I was seeing the ball well,” he said, adding that the game is better when you’re relaxed and having fun.
“It’s just way different,” Mensik said. “Everything in the schedule changed. It’s been crazy for everybody. It hit so fast – I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Meyer is trying to keep his skills sharp lifting weights with friends from high school, hitting into a batting net and playing catch with friends – no more than groups of 10, he said.
“This is the first spring I haven’t played baseball,” he said. “It’s been so beautiful – perfect baseball weather.”
Online classes allow Meyer to spread out his coursework, with assignments due on Sundays. He said his class load is lighter this semester because he’d planned to be gone with baseball. Two online courses finished in March, so he was familiar with the procedures.
He’s trying to maintain a daily schedule, doing classwork in the morning and work and other activities in the afternoon and evening.
“I miss being on the baseball field with some of my best friends,” he said.
Mensik said it’s been nice to be home with family. He’s been throwing with his dad and hitting in his batting cage. He’s doing what he can to stay in shape, running and doing pull-ups on trees.
He said biology has been a tough class to switch to online because of the lab component. He said the teacher has had the students watching videos and conducting simple lab projects with items found at home.
“I miss the people – all the friends I’ve made,” Mensik said. “
Meyer said the team’s seniors are planning to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility allotted by the NAIA.
“That will help team chemistry,” he said.
“I think that’s a super good idea,” Mensik said of the extra year. “I hope most take it.”
This summer, both are planning to play in the Cornbelt League in Omaha on a team coached by Doane’s coach Engel.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing,” Meyer said.