How COVID-19 has affected alumni

by Cam Black-Araujo

COVID-19 has dominated the news cycle for the past month and has changed the world as we know it, including the great game of the baseball. 

As spring training had already commenced across the majors and amateur teams across Canada prepared to head south to get outdoors early, meaningful games were already underway in the college ranks. 

The student-athletes worked the entire fall semester and grinded through the winter months waiting for the moment they would step onto the field with teammates and after roughly 15-20 games they were told to pack things up and the season is cancelled. 

Difficult for anyone, it seemed to hit the freshman and seniors a little harder as they were either just beginning their college career or just reaching the end of the road. 

Nationals alumni Aidan Armitage is a freshman at the University of Saint Francis and his Cougars had played 21 games in their 2020 campaign. Armitage pitched just 4.1 innings when the news came down that he wouldn't get the chance to take the mound again until the fall, at best.

"I found out about the cancellation as I was walking to the weight room. I looked down to check the my twitter and saw the tweet from "NAIABall" and I kind of just froze," explained the 6-foot, 200-pound right-hander. 

"That night we held a goodbye get together with the guys on the team, we had a lot of seniors so it was pretty emotional for them. I don't really remember much other than having to pack my entire dorm to leave for Canada and then being told we had mandatory self-isolation by the border officer."

Not only has it been tough on college athletes as they have to pack up their dorms to return home, once they've gotten home they need to find innovative ways to continue lifting and keeping the arm loose while following the guidelines being set forth by the government and health officials. 

Some are lucky enough to have a home gym, some weights or even a brother to use as a throwing partner but for the rest they just need to make it work anyway possible and Armitage is no exception.

"I've been doing my best to program body weight, isometric and banded exercises to maintain my strength. Throwing isn't too difficult because I have a pop-up net, a plyo wall and a radar gun which means I pretty much have all I need to continue getting better on that side of things," says Armitage.

It can take a toll on people mentally right now with all the uncertainties, especially as players continue to put in the time and work to continue honing their craft with no timetable but Armitage says despite the shortened season, he is using the positives to keep motivated right now.

"I've definitely been using the good memories to keep me going. I recorded my first collegiate save and got a good number of appearances against some good hitters in tough situations," continued Armitage.

"We went through a lot, more than baseball and we were really starting to piece things together as a team. The toughest thing right now is thinking about the "what if's" of it all but the good memories of bus rides, close games and early morning weights help me get through this... but it's hard not to think about what could've been."