Eshelmania: COVID-19 from the perspective of a NU baseball player

By Aaron Eshelman

The coronavirus outbreak has been one of the craziest experiences of my life. Being a student athlete has only increased the craziness. One day we were worried about our next game and the conference standings hoping to set ourselves up to make the playoffs and then the next day it was all over.

The COVID-19 outbreak didn’t seem like a big deal to me until the night of March 11. Up until this point I didn’t think it would affect my life here in Wichita, Kansas.

We were on the way back from a game in Oklahoma. We had just beaten Southern Nazarene and In the van we were talking about our upcoming series vs. Northeastern State. Then we got the news that would change our mindsets. First it was Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert testing positive for the virus and then the NBA suspending the season.

This is the moment when I realized that this was serious. The NBA suspending the season over a player who was in Oklahoma, the same state we were in at the time, testing positive woke me up. I remember thinking, ‘I hope our season doesn't get canceled,’ and by the end of the ride as more and more news came in I thought our season would probably get canceled but not for a few weeks.

We had a game the next day against Northeastern State and the mood in the locker room was pretty normal for a game day. People were relaxed and confident that we would win that day, but coronavirus was definitely the topic of the day and there were even jokes that this was a de facto senior night because our season would be canceled that day. I don’t know if anyone on the team really believed that to be the case before the game.

By the middle innings of the game however rumors were circling and it began to feel like this might be our last game. We won and directly after the game our coach gathered us up and told us that our season was suspended. Many believed that we would pick the season back up in a few weeks. I felt though that we were probably finished, as some conferences around the country had already canceled.

I was extremely disappointed not to be able to play out the rest of our season. Especially because, although we had struggled early in the year, I felt we were really hitting our stride. We had won our last two games and were entering the easiest portion of our schedule.

Winning is the best part of playing sports, in my opinion, and to feel robbed of our chance to do a lot of winning was extremely disappointing. I felt more for the seniors who at that time had no idea if they would get their eligibility back or not. I also began to think about high schoolers and junior college players who were trying to be recruited and who had now lost their opportunity to showcase their talents.

Eshelmania is a weekly sports column written by Jets baseball player Aaron Eshelman

Courtesy photo provided by Newman Athletics.