Few things have ever brought the world to a standstill and right now COVID-19 is doing just that. The standstill includes the sporting world in Iowa where sports from the college level to the high school ranks are in waiting.
While the wait has and will be tough for the fans, coaches, and other spectators, it’s been quite the ride for the athletes. No matter what the level, the pause in sports activities has impacted the athletes from both an athletic and academic standpoint.
“It’s really crazy actually because this is the time where you actually want to be at school and not stuck at home,” said ADM senior Kaden Sutton. “It sucks because it really ruins the whole end of senior year atmosphere.”
One of the various aspects that unite athletes at any level are the routines that come along with them. Sports, in general, is perhaps one of the more ritualistic industries where routine can be paramount to success. The unfortunate part about the COVID-19 pandemic is that the one aspect that is hit the hardest in sports has been the routine. That has then presented a unique challenge for the athletes as they wait for what’s next.
“The thing is, there isn’t a playbook or step-by-step process that anybody can draw from,” said Van Meter senior Anthony Potthoff. “It’s frustrating because the normal steps you take to get ready for the season are cut off. Not having your normal routine is frustrating.”
Those thoughts are shared across all levels and all sports whether it’s Potthoff on the baseball diamond or former ADM wrestling standout Nolan Harsh. The introduction year into the world of college academics and athletics was cut short, thus cutting short a whole new set of routines.
“It’s really hard training-wise right now with everything closed,” began Harsh. “You really find out just how creative you can be with things when everything you’re normally used to having is closed. I’m so used to waking up, going to lifts, going to class, go to practice, do school work, and then hang with the guys. It’s been a little different here at college but now everything’s different and it’s hard to get used to anything.”
For many athletes it almost has the feeling of a bad dream where tomorrow will be back to normal. That’s the thought nearly everybody has had at some point throughout this pandemic. The day most of the chaos began is still seared into the minds of most spring athletes, including former Waukee baseball standout Drew Irvine, who entered his sophomore season with University of Iowa baseball in 2020.
“I keep thinking one day I’ll wake up and all this will just be one bad dream,” said Irvine.
Irvine and the rest of the Iowa baseball team were just hours away from departing to California to continue their season when COVID-19 came knocking.
“When we had our series against Kansas (March 10-11) we received calls from coach that we may not head to California for the series,” began Irvine. “The night before we would have left we received notice our families wouldn’t be able to go with us and then the next day so many things went on where things were being canceled left and right. Even after the series in California was canceled, the season getting canceled wasn’t really in the conversation at that point. Then we saw that the season was over and everything was canceled. It all happened so fast.”
A few weeks into the effects of COVID-19 and still athletes, fans, and coaches are trying to adapt and get through the tough times. Some of the best ways tend to be the easiest.
“The best thing that I’ve done is just to get outside,” said Potthoff. “I’m preparing like we’re still going to have a (baseball) season. Sometimes I’m able to go down to the cage and hit off the tee or get someone to help throw to me. It’s definitely not the same as having a team there but just getting outside and being active helps both on the mental side and the physical side.”
While these times are tough primarily due to the waiting game, all the question marks could amplify for those like Sutton or Potthoff who will be exiting the high school sports landscape for collegiate athletics next year.
“It’s a little ways off yet but you hope that everything will start on time,” said Sutton. “I understand the situation but I know myself and other freshmen would love to not begin college the way our high school years ended.”
Both Sutton and Potthoff added that both their high school and collegiate coaches have been in constant contact with them to help them through these times.
Ultimately, while the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world in slight chaos, those in the sports world keep pushing on with the hope of resuming sports once more.