HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - No stadium lights or base running or balls or strikes. The University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers softball team is just one of many winter and spring sports that will not play again for the 2019-2020 academic school year.
“It’s over, there’s no ball to be played or practiced until we can get this virus under control,” UAH Chargers softball head coach Les Stuedeman said this week.
Stuedeman has coached 24 seasons at UAH. Her 25th year was cut short for an opponent off the playing field, known as COVID-19 and the global pandemic that has affected the entire sports world.
“Had somebody told me that if you stay in the business long enough, you are going to see everything,” Stuedeman added. “This is just unprecedented. We’ve never seen anything like this. That’s really accurate for the job I’m in.”
A day after the NCAA mandated championships were canceled, senior athletes in all sports were shocked. In all, 46 seniors in baseball and softball alone at Alabama A&M, UAH and UNA are affected.
“The kids are sad, and the seniors are sad, but the seniors are a month away from this very thing. The rest of these kids, you know, there’s just no frame of reference for it,” Stuedeman said. "They aren’t even looking toward the end. So just the abrupt cut is shocking."
Even in the time of despair for current athletes, there’s a silver lining for those that want to continue their collegiate playing careers. The NCAA announced that the committee granted an additional season of eligibility to athletes in spring sports. Still, there no spring sports for the 2019-2020 year, but a time for players and coaches across the country to self-reflect.
“The positive part of it is you can it as an opportunity to reassess where you are,” Stuedeman said in her softball stadium. “Get your yard looking great, and, you know, get, appreciate what we have had because the fact that we never had to have an abrupt stop to our season, now we have to be thankful for that.”