Instead of finishing their spring seasons or making improvements with their teams, Ball State student-athletes found new ways to work out at home during their offseason.
On March 11, 2020, Ball State announced the cancellation of all in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year in response to COVID-19. As a result, Mid-American Conference spring sports ended abruptly, and student-athletes were sent home to finish the spring semester.
With the inability to meet in person, training sessions for fall athletes were halted, and those with winter and spring seasons were unable to continue playing. However, this did not stop student-athletes from staying active.
Ball State Women’s Volleyball sophomore defensive specialist Chloe Rickenbach said the Cardinals’ training staff sent players weekly workout plans and actively kept the team connected.
“It was weird at first,” Rickenbach said. “Being a freshman, I didn’t have my first offseason, which is when everyone is supposed to make big gains. One thing that really helped me with the training schedule was the weekly Zoom meetings that really helped us stay on track.”
Other teams participated in similar meetings and workout planning. Ball State Softball junior utility player Amaia Daniel said her coaching staff consistently met with players individually, making sure they were staying physically and mentally healthy.
“We would always meet with our team psychologist and have team meetings with our coach every week just so they could check in on us,” Daniel said.
Outside of team workouts, players did some of their own as well. Ball State Men’s Basketball redshirt sophomore guard/forward Kani Acree said he felt thankful to work out in an actual gym.
“I had a lot of open gym runs, so I didn’t just do strength and conditioning,” Acree said. “I got to play against other people too.”
To safely work out in the gym, Acree said, several health procedures were necessary, such as checking temperatures and disinfecting equipment.
However, those who could not access a gym needed to think creatively. Rickenbach said her dad made a device she could practice with at home, and Daniel said she went to softball fields near her house to practice with her dad.
With the exception of football, the current postponement of MAC fall sports has changed the way athletes view and play their sport. Rickenbach said the Cardinals are more prepared than ever to compete at a high level.
“I think we have all gained a new type of appreciation,” Rickenbach said. “We are all just really pumped to work out together again and to potentially have a season and a chance to play soon.”
Acree shared Rickenbach’s sentiments. He said he developed a newfound appreciation for basketball and the work that comes with competing.
“When you don’t have it for so long, you just want to get back out there even more than normal,” Acree said. “It puts you in a weird position because then you start to think, ‘What if you don’t get to play anymore?’”
While the MAC has not officially announced plans for its 2020-21 men’s basketball season, Acree said he hopes to play, even if restrictions, like limited fan attendance, are enforced.
“The fans are a big part of the experience,” Acree said. “It might take some getting used to, but whatever we can do to play, we will do it.”