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Mazama softball goes virtual for spring 2020 season

Despite the coronavirus keeping players off the field, they still found a way to bond.

Posted: Jun 7, 2020 8:15 PM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The coronavirus stole a spring season from every high school athlete. They can't redshirt like college athletes, so the 2020 spring season vanished with the wind.

But over at Mazama High School, the softball team wasn't about to let a pandemic get in their way of getting better and creating a stronger bond.

"We started this back when we first got word that we were going to be canceled," Mazama softball head coach Todd Nickerson said. "At the beginning, I was looking to keep a leg up on our competition... I wanted to make sure we stayed as game-ready as we could."

Even with official OSAA announcements coming in early April, the virtual Vikings training camp carried on. Players completed drills and reading assignments to earn points towards a varsity letter. The Mazama softball players quickly found out that home workouts and drills were a bit different from fielding grounders at their home field.

"It's a lot harder to do drills without your coach perfecting what you're doing," freshman infielder Ella Baley said.

"Yeah, I totally agree with that. It was really hard not to be able to do those drills without your coach," sophomore pitcher Kennedy Lease said. "I mean you have your parents and stuff but it's definitely not the same without Coach Nickerson there."

And while they may have been missing catching pop flies on the diamond, what they were really missing was each other. Coach Nickelson had a solution: bringing a typical in-season activity to the virtual world.

Spirit Days.

"I love the spirit days I miss doing those during the season but that was the most fun for me," Lease said.

From Hawaiian day to Superhero spirit to stuffed animals, the spirit days happened like clockwork every week.

"I liked Disney day and seeing everybody's princess costume and Kennedy even wore a crown," junior infielder Raine Wilcox said.

"This is my first year. So I never got to experience going on bus rides and stuff, but this year I definitely enjoyed it and looking at what people would wear," Baley said. "Like I can totally see where they would come from at school, how fun it would be."

The idea behind all of it, while it started with building a competitive edge, has always been shaping young minds into productive members of society through sports.

"I really think a big part of my job is to help players become better people through athletics," Nickerson said. "I've had people in the past ask me 'how's your team going to be this year?' Well, I won't know for 10 years until they get into their late 20s early 30s if they've turned into good people or not."

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