BUSINESS

Column: It’s important to connect with a supportive team during a pandemic

baseball
Baseball

Doug Nikhazy
Oxford Stories
dsnikhaz@go.olemiss.edu

When everything you know and love changes in 24 hours, things can get a little stressful. My life went from traveling around the Southeast playing baseball for the great University of Mississippi to being home with my family in the blink of an eye.

In these stressful times, my mother has challenged me to stay connected to the people I have left in the wake of COVID-19.  

The news first hit home for me when the Ole Miss Baseball Team, of which I am a member, was in Louisiana playing a midweek series against University of Louisiana-Monroe. We had just gotten on the bus after winning our 15th straight game when we saw on Twitter that we would not be playing in front of fans for the upcoming weekend.

This was devastating news knowing we would not get to see the fans at the game for what would have potentially been one of the biggest crowds in Ole Miss baseball history against LSU. But this bus ride back continued to get worse.

Once we read the news, Coach Mike Bianco got on the phone with the rest of the Athletics Department at Ole Miss, and things continued to roll downhill. After that call, it was announced that fans would not be allowed into the stadiums for the next three weeks.

The rest of the bus ride back seemed to be the quietest ride I have ever experienced with that group of men. After a long night of worries and sorrow, I sat on my couch and talked to my teammate, Taylor Broadway.

“At least we are still playing baseball,” I said.

How wrong was I?

Doug Nikhazy

The next day, we showed up on the baseball field ready to practice and play LSU the following day. But before practice began, we were delivered even more bad news.

Those three weeks we were supposed to play with no fans in the stands, we would not be playing at all. I remember hearing gasps and doubts from people who didn’t believe what they were hearing. But we were told to continue working hard and we could still practice.

So now, at least we can still all stay together. That practice might have been the worst practice I had ever attended. Everyone looked like zombies walking around with no goal. It was depressing.

After hearing so much bad information in such a short period of time, we knew there was more bad news on the way. And we weren’t wrong. 

After the practice and workouts, the team was brought together into the betting room. When the coaches walked in, you could see on their faces something was seriously wrong.

In that meeting, we were told that the NCAA has cancelled all sporting events until further notice, and most notably, that the NCAA College World Series is cancelled. This is when the tears began to roll.

This meant in essence that our fantastic dream team season was going to forever be put on hold. Along with this, everyone was told to go home and pack up their houses. In a matter of 24 hours, our season was completely dismantled. 

On the way home, all I could think about was what could have been and how much I would pay to have all this go away. But we all know how that works.

Once I finally made it home, I talked to my parents, and the biggest worry I presented to my mom was losing a connection with my friends and not talking to anyone. My mother gave me the best piece of advice.

She told me to try and call a new friend each day and catch up with them. This has been the best way I have found to stay in a healthy state of mind.

I have really been building relationships with my friends better than before. Each time I talk to a new person, the conversations become easier. It allows me to look into the past with people who are close to me while still coming up with new goals and working hard like my other teammates. 

Doug Nikhazy, 20, is studying political science with a minor in journalism. Nickhazy grew up in Winter Garden, Florida just outside of Orlando. At age 7, his father began teaching him about baseball. He has been a part of two national teams and won a pair of state championships in Florida. He plays for the Ole Miss Baseball Team. 

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