Autumn Zierman – Staff Writer
While all of Gustavus returns to spring semester and attempts to eke out a semblance of normal life, hope for a normalized schedule concurrently returns in the form of winter and spring sports. Teams for the winter season quickly return to their competitive season starting on February 6 in accordance with the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) decision. Simultaneously, spring sports are revving up, beginning practice once again in the coming weeks to get a jump on the competitive season. To understand what this spring sports’ season will look like, as well as catch a glimpse of the teams’ feelings about return, one can turn to the Gustavus Baseball team, who returns to their practice season this week.
Due to the large number of sports returning to practice, and the especially limited space available this year, rather than share the blue space in Lund Center with all other returning sports, Gustavus admin has rented out the Maverick Sports Dome in Mankato Minnesota to give the Baseball team all the space they need to throw ball and maintain social distance.
This return to practice comes at a good time too, as the social distance limitations that were put out in the fall have not allowed the majority of the team the bonding experience typically afforded.
“We haven’t truly been able to get the whole group together without team bonding at the house and pod practice in the fall. We tried some Zoom meetings, but they get boring,” Senior Nathan Lindberg said.
However, with the newly rented space and the MIAC guarantee of at least twenty games this season, practices will be full team, allowing for the chance to welcome in the new First-year class.
Without the typical fall schedule, bridging the gap between upper and lower classes has been harder than normal.
“The biggest obstacle this year is bringing the GAC Baseball culture to the new class. [But] the best part is meeting new people every year, you all have one love, one commonality, you share,” Senior Ethan Mocchi said.
Now that the baseball team, like many others, is able to gather under one large roof, sharing that love and getting a start to the competitive season should be no problem.
As far as the competition schedule goes, as aforementioned, the MIAC and administration at Gustavus have approved a twenty-game schedule for this year’s season.
“Tentatively we are trying to play outside the MIAC to have anywhere from thirty-forty games this season. We are just super excited to have clarity on the schedule and games,” Assistant Baseball Coach Andrew Woitas said.
Certainly, it is better than the uncertainty of the fall and previous spring schedule.
This year also marks the final season of one of the first classes recruited by current head coach and dubbed by the team “recruiting guru,” Brad Baker. Nate Lindberg credits much of the team’s success in turnabout from bottom half of the MIAC to the top, to the recruiting skill of Coach Baker and the hard work put in by the team since. It is fortunate that this year’s senior class is afforded the opportunity to finish out the year with a competitive schedule on the field with Gusties cheering them as they go.
Overall the team feels as many of those getting back to sports, and school, do‒excited to be there.
“I feel fortunate to have a season with the admin being pretty accepting of our competitive schedule. You do the most you can to get back to reality. I’ll take 30 degree baseball over sitting inside any day,” Mocchi said.
The chance to be outside and competing is approaching fast, even as the players return to practice.
“We are looking at a mid to late March start to the competitive season,” Coach Woitas said.
While it is unknown as of now if that season will allow fans in the stand, Gusties are encouraged to get out there and cheer on all teams however they can.