I think the biggest challenge I have faced in all of this is just having to face my team, and explain in particular to my 10 seniors that not only is their final season over but, in most cases, so is their softball career.
It was hard. It was emotional. But, most of all, it was something we experienced together, as a family. Just like every other thing a team goes through in a season together, this was something we needed to lean into each other to process and find some peace in what was a very chaotic time, in both mind and body.
In the days and months that have followed, I have begun to serve in a new role here at the institution, acting as both the interim athletics director and head softball coach. It has been amazing to watch so many people step up on our campus to help lead and serve during this unprecedented time. We have developed several ways to stay connected to our student-athletes, and we have had so much collaboration across campus from others who have come alongside us to help provide whatever they can during this time.
We have a designated mental health counselor from our Wellness Center, which has provided videos to our students and, more specifically, our student-athletes. These videos give them viable tips to help with depression, anxiety and dealing with overall uncertainty. This has been an awesome tool for our entire department.
Our athletics department is in the midst of a weekly podcast that we have named “Stay the Course,” in which all full-time coaches are partaking, each week providing some guidance and advice on navigating the things they may face in the coming weeks and how to stay the course mentally, academically, physically, spiritually and socially.
Campuswide Zoom calls, Google Hangouts, virtual “fireside” chats and numerous other opportunities for students, faculty and staff also have allowed people a chance to stay connected and be in fellowship together.