An interview with Softball Coach Jim Peterson
Kierrla Yates, Staff Writer
Going into 2020, great luck would have been needed to predict that in a few short weeks, sports across the globe at all levels would be put to a halt. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all sports, though each one has been impacted differently. These impacts include changes in eligibility, the recruiting process, training, and attitudes in both athletes and coaches.
To help understand another team’s perspective on the pandemic, Saint Martin’s Head Softball Coach, Jim Peterson, gave his thoughts in a Zoom interview on Monday, April 13. Coach Peterson gave insightful feedback about the ways his team has been affected by the crisis, as well as being a polite participant, even though he could have been doing something else.
The Saint Martin’s softball team was already one third of the way through their season when the cancellation of spring sports started. They had several great games and some pretty spectacular wins, such as their nail-biting win against Western Oregon. When I asked Coach Peterson how he felt the team was looking and where he hoped they would finish the season, he replied that they had been off to a great start. He said, “We were two and one in GNAC league games and this season the team was going to be in a good position to compete in for a spot in the league playoffs.”
Coach Peterson stated that league play-offs were actually scheduled to be played at St. Martin’s, and that their team goal was to make it to the playoffs, where, “Being able to host it at St. Martin’s would have been a big plus for us.”
With a big goal like making the playoffs and competing for a league title on your own home turf, it is disappointing to see the season end.
Peterson talked about how the cancellation of the season has affected the future of the team through eligibility, recruiting, and the attitudes of the athletes. As we talked about the impacts to the current athletes’ eligibility, Peterson explained that the current seniors could have an extra year, but that would mean they would still have to take classes.
Peterson pointed out that, “The seniors had already made their plans of getting internships or getting jobs after graduation, so this has been a big change for them to try and figure out what the future is for them.”
It is hard enough to figure out future plans, and now there is another option for these seniors to take if they so choose.
As far as recruiting is concerned, Peterson explained that there have been some setbacks. Usually they would go and watch their recruits during the spring and summer when the athletes are playing for their high schools and travel teams.
They do have eight incoming freshmen, “…but it’s been our future classes, to watch the high school juniors and sophomores, that’s been the challenge right now.”
It is unfortunate and challenging to not be able to see an athlete perform or show them the Saint Martin’s campus.
When asked about how he thought athletes’ attitudes might be changed next year, Peterson shared, “I hope we will come in with a perspective of, you just don’t know what could happen, when it could be your last game, whether it’s an injury or a situation like this. You just don’t know, so we will talk about making every practice count and making all preparation time count.”
As the interview continued, Coach Peterson discussed more about how training has been changed, how communication for the team has changed, and how he has been trying to help his athletes keep positive attitudes.
Peterson said , “As a team sport it’s kind of tough [to train] because, being together and working on things we need to do on the softball field, obviously we can’t do this.”
Not to mention, when a team cannot meet to practice and train, it can also be difficult to communicate and stay positive. Peterson explained that he and the other coaches have reached out to talk to all of their athletes, and have even sent out workout programs to help them train. However, he has also learned from his own athletes that one of the biggest challenges for them is finding a routine or structure at home. This makes it challenging to stay on top of their schoolwork and training.
Despite the changes and complications that have come with the end of the season, Coach Peterson has been doing what he can to keep in touch with his athletes and help them keep good spirits.
When asked about what he would say to a struggling athlete, Peterson responded, “We can look forward and hopefully we won’t be affected next year and things will get back to normal, looking forward there is light at the end of the tunnel.”