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Student-Athlete Spotlight

Ichabods staying connected, focused on future after seasons canceled, classes moved online

Jacob Head, Rachael Mayberry, Paul Haase

From Athletics Spotlight - Spring 2020

Several Washburn student-athletes were preparing for competitions in March as leagues around the world were canceling or postponing sporting events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA suspended the remainder of its season. March Madness was canceled. Major League Baseball suspended the start of its season. The Ichabods went on as usual until they got the same heartbreaking news about their seasons. As it sunk in, they returned home to their new normal and have been finding ways to finish their classes and remain connected with teammates and coaches while looking ahead to brighter days.

Jacob Head was with his baseball teammates on the way to Pittsburg State University for a weekend series. He thought there was no way the NCAA was going to let them play after canceling its marquee basketball tournament. Less than an hour into their trip they were called back and informed their season was on indefinite suspension.

Paul Hasse and his tennis teammates were on their way to a competition at Harding University. They were following the news on their phones as events were being canceled. Theirs would be next.

“There was an update every five minutes,” he said. “We were still thinking we would be able to play, but halfway there, we got a call saying their school closed and we couldn’t play.”

For track and field athlete Rachael Mayberry, she and others who qualified for the indoor national championship were already practicing in Birmingham, Alabama. This was to be her third trip to nationals as a pole vaulter and third attempt to finish in the top eight and earn first team All-America. She earned second team All-American each of the last two years. Just like everyone else in the nation, they later got the news their event was canceled.

“I think I was the most upset at first because I have been to nationals before and I was on the verge of All-American,” she said. “It hit my teammates as the time went on and they were just as bad as I was. There were definitely tears shed for all of us.”

Initially, events were postponed, then the NCAA canceled postseason events and then entire seasons.

“I was sad because we were practicing for so long. I really felt we had a good shot this year at conference. It was definitely disappointing,” Haase said.

“At the start, I tried to be optimistic,” Head said. “I thought it would be a couple-week deal and I was going to stay ready for the season, keep working out. As time went on, it became more realistic that it wasn't going to come back. It’s a pretty crummy situation.”

Like their fellow classmates, their academic world also changed. Washburn moved all classes the remainder of the spring semester online, presenting new challenges for students and for the faculty and staff looking for ways to provide students the resources they need.

“For faculty, it's a new situation too, and they didn't have that much time to prepare, but I feel like they're doing a really good job,” Haase said. He has tried to maintain a routine to help keep up with his classes.

The NCAA will grant spring sports student-athletes an extra year of eligibility. Haase and Head are both seniors who are graduating this May – Haase with a bachelor of business administration and Head with a master of business administration after earning a bachelor’s last year. Both originally planned on this being their final season and they may not compete next year. Mayberry is a junior and she will compete in the spring 2021 outdoor season and both the indoor and outdoor seasons the following year.

Even though they can’t get together in person, Washburn student-athletes are maintaining the comradery they had before as teammates, connecting virtually with video chats, sending group texts or playing video games together. Coaches are checking in on their players, providing updates and ideas to stay healthy and in shape with limited resources. Like much of the world, they only have access to what’s already in their home.

“You kind of make do with what you have,” Mayberry said.

The band at a football game

You can give student-athletes a chance to excel by supporting the Ichabod Athletic Fund with a gift online. You can also contact Bruce Steinbrock by email or at 785.670.1334 to learn about other ways you can help student-athletes continue to make us proud on the field and in their studies.

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