The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many students and student-athletes to miss significant milestones, especially in their senior years of high school and college. Classes were changed, seasons were canceled and graduation and commencement ceremonies were shifted online. The spring of 2020 that was about to bloom, instead became a spring of gloom and doom; for student-athletes, uncertainty and cancellations became abundant.
Spring is baseball season; players have spent all winter preparing for opening day and the subsequent season with excitement and optimism. Seniors approach it with a mix of happiness and acceptance. Knowing the next four months is likely to be the last competitive baseball game they ever play for Georgia State.
The four-month regular season (from Feb. 14 to May 16) would provide players with 92 days to make peace with their final seasons. Instead, in 2020 fashion, catcher/outfielder Dalton Davies and the Panther baseball team played roughly one-third of their season (around 30 days) before the pandemic took it away.
“The end of the season didn’t hit me until I came home, roughly a month later, and realized this could be the last time I played baseball,” Davies said.
After years of rigorous training sessions and late-night workouts, it appeared that student-athletes like Davies wouldn’t get closure on their athletic careers. Their eligibility would expire, and they would miss out on being able to savor their final times with their family and experience the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a sports team. As good fortune would have, it was not the case, Davies along with other spring student-athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA.
“When the season ended, it came at such short notice that we really did not have time to react. Within a week, we had stopped mid-season and were cleaning out our lockers,” Davies said. “Thankfully, I was able to receive another year of eligibility and am so thankful to the coaches for allowing me to extend my career another year, at least.”
The senior is excited and grateful that he will get to play his senior season at full length. But like many others, going home was an adjustment for Davies.
“The pandemic has changed my life incredibly. For a while, I felt lost because my ‘safe haven’ if you will, is the gym, and I cannot get enough of it,” he said. “However, I did adjust and started working out from home until the gyms opened back up, requiring masks and gloves, which I was completely fine with.”
His appreciation for working out lies in concert with his major in health, along with his goal of becoming a certified personal trainer. But, among all things in the personal training field, Davies is looking forward to giving back and using the experiences he has had to help others looking to take a route similar to his.
“Don’t worry about where you go, what division [or] how big the school is,” he said to aspiring collegiate baseball players. “Every level at the collegiate level is competitive, and whether there’s 30,000 people watching you on Fridays or 100, it’s always competitive and always fun.”