All spring events, conferences, and meetings have been cancelled due to COVID-19. This includes sporting seasons.
At Pittsburg State, the men’s and women’s track and field, baseball and softball teams were in the middle of the season.
Head Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Coach Russ Jewett was upset when he heard the news of the cancellation, but knows it was a necessary precaution.
“Well, I feel probably like most folks do,” Jewett said. “It’s tragic but… (it’s) definitely necessary in the greater good. So, that’s like a lot of things that are challenges or setbacks. (It’s) something you can either shrink from or grow from… So, personally, (I’m) trying to grow from this and trying to inspire our student athletes who are suffering the same kinds of challenges to grow from it as well.”
According to Head Baseball Coach Bob Fornelli, it was a hard way to close out the season.
“Well, it was a very tough way for the season to finish,” Fornelli said. “… We had a lot of seniors that don’t get to finish their senior year. The biggest thing, number one, is we all stay healthy and right now we’re doing that. So, that’s what’s important.”
It was a hard thing to process for Head Softball Coach Ashley Balazs and she will ultimately miss spending time and bonding with the team.
“In the beginning, it was really tough for me,” Balazs said. “Even though, I felt like our team was turning a corner and we kind of got cheated of that opportunity to keep that going. So, that was tough for me to go through that. Really, more than that I just simply miss my time with the girls. The spring is supposed to be our time to be on the field together, to be on the bus and that sort of thing. So, really just missing them and then now I’m kind of in a little bit of a phase where I’ve had some time to reflect. So, I’ve just thought a lot about the positive things that we did throughout the year, a lot of positivity, things that like… Now, (we are) into a little bit of a summer if you will, where we’re just continuing to build relationships and help them through this time.”
The most upsetting thing for Jewett was that the seniors on the track and field teams won’t get to finish out their senior season.
“Well, (there has been) so many but I guess when you filter everything through, I feel very, very badly for the seniors who had big hopes and dreams and don’t get the opportunity to fulfill those in so many ways,” Jewett said. “So, it’s really the seniors who have other plans rather than coming back and taking another year of school to finish… So, life goes on, I guess. I feel bad for those seniors. I feel bad for all of them but especially the seniors who, (for them), there is no next year… To end your career with something like this, that hurts. (It) hurts a lot.”
The baseball team also had several seniors who will not get the chance to return and finish out the season.
“… I think it was just seeing the disappointment in the kid’s eyes,” Fornelli said. “I think it wasn’t a game or anything, but we had the majority of our season left to play and we were 11 and two our last 13 games (and we) felt good about it, thought we were getting better each and every day. And again, keeping everybody healthy is the number one thing.”
Despite being disappointed, Balazs also understands the situation.
“(The biggest disappointment is) just that we didn’t get the big game moments, that we didn’t allow this team to see the journey through,” Balazs said. “I think we all, everyone in our program, saw how special certain aspects of our program were and we were on our way to some really big things. So, I think just not being able to finish what we started is definitely disappointing, but I think we all understand the situation and that it is what it is.”
Balazs hopes for everyone to return in the fall and be stronger than ever.
“… (This is) a time that we all just need to feel certain emotions and everyone’s gonna be in different places at different times dealing with this and (it’s) something that our program is gonna come back stronger from whenever we get the opportunity to return to campus,” Balazs said.