A long offseason gives the softball team an opportunity to build their culture

Dakaline White, Staff Reporter

The softball team’s season ended early last March due to COVID-19. Alison Mitchell was named head coach before the start of the season. The first season of her dream job was cut short just two months in. 

“I’m the eternal optimist,” Mitchell said. “We’re an outdoor sport so you know, maybe we’ll have to tweak a little bit of what we do but it’s just a suspension. We’ll still play, it’s no big deal guys. We’ll just stay ready to go.” 

While the shut-down continued, Mitchell went through the whole grief cycle. That led to acceptance, allowing her and the team to progressively look forward to this season. 

“I was ignoring it; I didn’t believe it. I got angry honestly, like really angry,” Mitchell said. “I got sad and then the final stage of acceptance. This is the way it is. We’ve got to work ourselves through it. Let’s just do what we can and hope we get a chance to play next year and luckily we’re getting that opportunity.” 

Sophomore outfielder Allie Thiessen said the team found out before the second game in their double header, that it could be their last game. The team gave the seniors a chance to play in their last game. 

“We came together before our last game and just said this might be it, let’s just give it our all. Let’s go out with a bang,” Senior Shortstop Sydney Brown said. “That’s exactly what we did. We came together and focused and had a really close game.”

“At the end of that game we all kind of just sat together. It was a little bit emotional especially for those seniors who had a short send off,” Thiessen said. “Ever since that time we’ve all still been working for that same goal. It’s been almost a year since that last game. We’re hoping to pick up where we left off.”

After the game Brown said the team hit what felt like the low of the rollercoaster but they tried to follow sadness with positivity. 

“It was really fun to be a part of that, to show that we are able to do such great things and we are able to come together and focus on a common goal,” Brown said. 

The deadline for GNAC schools to opt-in or opt-out of this upcoming season is Feb. 18. As of right now, Coach Mitchell and the team are opting in for the season. 

“Our administration has done a great job working with county health officials and communicating with President Gaudino about what are the risks and what are the safety measures we can take to keep our players safe,” Mitchell said. “They have worked so tirelessly for us to have this opportunity to play and I’m so grateful for it and I know the players are too.”

At the end of spring quarter last year, Mitchell and the coaching staff split the players on the team into four family groups. These groups contained freshmen through seniors. Mitchell did not want the players to feel isolated during the COVID-19 shut down. 

“We did little competitions between family groups and they just had a lot of fun,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s just a byproduct of changing that culture and it has just been a lot of fun to watch that happen.”

Being able to work together while creating friendships is a goal of the softball team. 

 “Those days like going out in the snow and having competitions even in quarantine, having competitions over Zoom keeps a good vibe between the whole team,” Thiessen said. “We’ve created good bonds through it all.”

 Through a pandemic, the team has expanded on their relationship. Brown said the team has the get it down attitude but realizes it is important to have fun while doing it. 

“This is a game,” Brown said. “This is supposed to be fun and our coaches help with that by giving us mental health days like with the snowball fight and she had us do fun little competitions with our family groups in the fall.”

The team has a shot to play for a national championship this spring. With that goal in mind, Mitchell wants to see the team compete and live up to the standards they set for themselves.