Reflection: Softball in times of COVID

By Jamie Belfer || Sports Editor

It all started in March 2020. The rumblings of COVID-19. The questions. The unknowns. I remember we were gearing up and getting excited for our annual spring break trip down to Florida to play some games when we were called into the ASFC to have a team discussion. That’s when we found out our trip was cancelled. That’s when we found out that our season might come to a swift end in the near future. The devastation on our seniors’ faces realizing they probably would not play another game of softball was hard to watch. My heart broke for them as COVID decided their fate and ended their final season. And that…was just the beginning.

A very isolated summer came and went, and soon we came back to campus in the fall not knowing what school or sports would look like. Eventually, we learned that fall and winter sports were postponed, yet we were allowed to practice, just not compete against other teams. 

Fall practices were unlike ever before. Wearing masks while playing was an adjustment. I definitely learned my lesson to wear a medical mask as opposed to a cloth mask after the first warm day where I felt like I was inhaling a sweatshirt over my face. Thankfully, softball is a pretty socially distant sport, but we did have to stay mostly near our pods. Honestly, even with all the newness and adjustments, I found myself interestingly having some of the best times I’ve ever had on the softball field in college. Since we didn’t even know if we were going to have a season, there was a lot less pressure on the field. I felt incredibly relaxed and was just able to blow off steam and get a fun break from the long, repetitive Zoom days. 

After a long winter break, we came back to school with one question in mind: will we have a season? While we were supposed to find out over winter break, we were constantly left in limbo as the decision continued to be postponed. Finally, we were told that we were going to play. I couldn’t believe it. With the Ivy League schools making decisions to not play, it seemed as though F&M was likely to follow suit. As much as I was excited for the opportunity, a small voice in my head kept asking: was this safe? 

The spring season was finally upon us and let me tell you, it was a lot to juggle, especially with the module system. Going from practicing two days a week in the fall to five in the spring was hard. Nevertheless, it was exciting to be back together again on the field. Once we started playing, it was like I fell in love with the game all over again. The adrenaline, the comeback wins, the game changing plays: playing this season reminded me why I was still doing it, why I put so much time in.

We eventually hit a bump in the road with rising COVID levels on campus and multiple injuries on our team, and the game was becoming increasingly stressful. The questions came circling again. Is it safe to play? What is going to happen? Our season ultimately came to an early end after securing a 5-3 record overall. When we heard the news, I could see the hurt in my teammates’ eyes just as I saw in spring 2020. Yet, while frustrating, the decision was understandable. At the end of the day, we have to prioritize health and safety. 

Softball in COVID was a huge learning and growing period. It forced me to reflect on my values and on my priorities. While there were some difficult and stressful times, we came together and made it work. We had an opportunity to play which was something I’d never thought we’d get. And as my good friend and teammate Jill says, COVID has hit us all in different ways; we got through it, we did it, but now it’s time for us to heal.

Junior Jamie Belfer is the sports editor. Her email is jbelfer@fandm.edu.

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