In a time where all sports are gone, fans feel at a lost, not able to cheer or follow along a team or league’s season. For the athletes, however, things are much more different. In particular, the impact of baseball seasons being canceled on a collegiate level has had a huge impact on athletes all over the nation, both as players and students.
I got a chance to have a digital interview with Matt Pestel, a baseball outfielder for Carroll University. It’s a Division 3 school Waukesha, Wisconsin, and the team competes in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW). Pestel is a sophomore who is currently studying biology as a pre med student.
We started with questions talking directly about the impact of the coronavirus on both himself as a player, as well as his program and other players. Below is a transcript of our conversation:
S: How does the corona virus impact you personally as a baseball player?
M: Our team was down in Fort Myers, Florida when the whole pandemic started and each day we were there it was almost as if every team was a cast of what they once were. After each game it seemed that the team we played either had their season canceled or that was their last game. It was hard to watch, but also the nerves ran high in our team. All of us just began mentally preparing ourselves for when we would get that call. However, that didn’t stop us from playing the game we love and being with the guys and coaches we had put all the work in so it wouldn’t go to waste.
S: How do you think it will impact your team long term? Specifically, things like future recruitments or guys sticking around for a potential extra year of eligibility?
M: In the long run I think if this is over by the time we get back to campus we will start up with our practices in the fall with business as usual. A lot of the returning players might be a little bit more motivated to really push and compete for the lost time. With all of the seasons being canceled and the NCAA giving spring sports a year of eligibility back, I think we will see a large increase in overall 5th years across all sports. There is a possibility we could see the best competition across the board next year with almost 5 entire classes having the ability to compete.
S: In general terms, do you think this will impact guys trying to go pro?
M: This could impact people going pro just by that lost season. However, for baseball specifically, if the summer ball leagues have to take the season off, then for people trying to get drafted this will end up posing huge obstacles.
I wanted to hear more from the student side of things. How the sudden change from campus life to home life so quickly could impact an athlete, especially one in-season.
S: What do you miss the most about Carroll outside of baseball?
M: Outside of sports the thing I miss most about my university is the overall atmosphere. Now that might seem cheesy but the entire place is always full of people who are passionate and involved. I miss walking across campus and seeing your friends on the other side of the lawn or just hanging out and getting to shoot the s**t for hours.
S: Not cheesy at all. Now, what have you done as an athlete since being sent home? As a college student?
M: Since being sent home, I have had to find time to not only continue to practice, but to refine my skills. I have taken the approach as this is more of a extended off season and started working for next year. There is not much that can be done about this season and so not it’s just what’s next and how can I keep moving.
M: With all the gyms, facilities, and libraries being closed down as well it’s been just trying to find a way to stay ahead as a student and as an athlete. Setting up a routine to keep me balanced and organized has been a big transition and that’s obviously something that all students across the nation are trying to get adjusted to.
S: Speaking of all students, do you think the transition to digital learning and not being on campus has a bigger impact, the same, or less of an impact on D3 schools than D2 or D1?
M: I believe the transition to digital learning will impact all students at every school with a variety of challenges. On the sports side obviously I can only speak on my experience as a D3 athlete, but I believe this could have a bigger impact on Division 3 as a team. As programs we have less funding and amenities than D1 schools. All of the amenities in being an athlete at a D3 school are all at school while some perks of being a D1 school can reach the homes of its athletes by sending equipment home. D3 schools cannot spare that kind of money.