Joelle Beals reveals how she is coping with the abrupt end to the Forester softball season.

By Ryan Walker, Staff Writer

Devastation: that is what athletes have felt in 2020 due to the impact of this pandemic. Winter athletes were able to compete in their season, but all post-season activities were suspended before they couldn’t even start. In contrast, spring athletes were taken from the majority, if not all, of their season. They are now faced with a tough decision in conclusion to this season

Before the NAIA canceled all spring sports for the 2020 season, the Foresters had an interesting start to their softball season, posting a 5-6 record. The beginning of the season included a 1-0 win over Lindsey Wilson College, who was ranked fifth nationally, earning a split. Then, the season ended abruptly, and questions rose concerning what would happen next.

The NCAA announced that they would allow spring athletes an extra year of eligibility, and the NAIA was soon to follow later that week. Although the plan sounds good for seniors, there are outside factors to the NAIA’s decision. 

The biggest factor is that students looking to use their “coronavirus” year of eligibility would have to pay for another year of schooling. This will cause obvious problems, as student debt affects almost every student in college, and most will not have the luxury to afford another year. Another issue with this is the seniors given an extra year will already have enough credits to graduate. That will put them in a situation where it wouldn’t make sense financially to stay and take additional classes.

With those factors in play, senior middle-infielder Joelle Beals will not be returning to the program. For her, coming back wasn’t even a consideration, as she was going to graduate in May, prepare to obtain a job and she is getting married in September. Beals explains what she will do now that her season is over.

“Hopefully, getting a full-time job. I’m applying for a few different positions,” Beals said, “but it’s hard because everyone’s looking for jobs right now.”

Beals is looking to get into the agriculture business involving communications and marking but will be difficult as the pandemic taking a life of its own and putting the world on halt.

In terms of the softball season, this was not easy for anyone to let go of. She mentioned that she felt that the team was well rounded, with upperclassman leading the way, alongside some of the freshmen making an immediate impact on the team. The win over the fifth-ranked team in the NAIA was a nice piece of motivation to become something special. 

“I think we would have been really good,” Beals said. “We had a lot of good potential…It’s such a fun group of people, and it really is like a family. We were talking a week before it all ended how you can get mad at someone and be over it a day later.”

The way the season ended was not what anyone was expecting and brought emotion to the entire team as tears were shed, and goodbyes were said too soon. What hurts the most is the “what-if” factor and the unanswered questions. There is an unknown on how the season could have turned out or where they would be.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and Beals’s positive attitude is crucial during this tough time. She has learned a few things.

“We’re not really promised the next day. When softball ended, that’s when it felt like everything was taken away, “Beals said. “Make the most of it because you never know when you will ever be able to do it again.”

The unfortunate ending to the season has brought us a time like no other. For athletes, the only option is to stay safe and remember the times they had during their athletic careers.