And…the Crowd Stays Home

Written by on February 3, 2021

A sour taste remained in Tabetha Deines’ (JR/Salina, Kansas) mouth as she returned back to campus from the NAIA Women’s Indoor Track and Field National Championships last March. Her mindset switched to getting her redemption as outdoor season was approaching, but the universe had other plans in mind as a worldwide pandemic began. 

“It was hard not having an outdoor season, but a lot of other divisions didn’t get their indoor national [meet], so we were lucky to at least have that,” Deines said. 

Deines keeps a positive perspective of not letting her COVID seasons affect the training that she and her teammates have been putting in since this past summer. The biggest thing that Deines and her teammates have kept in mind is to not take anything for granted. 

“We’re lucky to be at the small school level in comparison to bigger schools like Division I and II because they had to postpone or cancel meets altogether,” she said. “We really just have to treat every opportunity that we get like it’s our only one.” 

Head Cross Country and Track Coach Kyle Hiser feels that even though COVID has changed up the environment for teams, it doesn’t put a damper on the athletic performances, but rather what happens afterwards. 

“We were still able to compete the way we had in the past, I just think that it would’ve been more fun for the bystanders,” Hiser said. “Once you’re done racing, you’re out at the meet cheering on the rest of your teammates, and now we’re not able to do that as much.” 

Athletic Director Steve Wilson admits that though the sports seasons have felt like a roller coaster, it still brings a good feeling knowing that the school has made every effort to give its athletes a chance to compete. 

“It hasn’t been a full season for anyone, but I think they’ve been meaningful seasons.” 

Looking back at early COVID times, the question of sports seasons returning when school started back up seemed slim. But Wilson said that he had faith that the university would be able to return because of its leadership. 

“It’s the way we all banded together and we were determined to make a sports season happen,” Wilson said. “You’ll always have some doubts, but you always knew you were working on a team that all had the same goal in mind.” 

Even though the timeline of when the pandemic will end seems out of reach, it has taught faculty and students at the university how important keeping yourself healthy really is. So much in fact that there are some protocols that Hiser and Deines hope continue post-pandemic. 

“I kind of like the social distancing,” Deines said. “Maybe not necessarily to the extent that we have it now, however it is kind of nice to give people their space.” 

“We should make sure that masks are still being worn and the biggest thing is washing your hands,” Hiser said. “It’s something so easy, but it’s something that when we’re not in a pandemic we kind of forget about.” 

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