Chico athletes reflect on shortened season

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Ryan McCasland/Chico State Sports Information

#20 Kristin Worley takes an at bat in a softball game at Chico State (Ryan McCasland/Chico State Sports Information)

The coronavirus pandemic has halted sports programs at Chico State since March. Before COVID-19, the spring sports teams were playing well and had a shot to make a deep run in the playoffs.

The softball team was 19-2, including 8-0 at home. The baseball team was 15-7 and the men’s basketball team was just about to play a playoff game in La Jolla when their season got cancelled.

While a championship in any sport is never guaranteed, some of these athletes are confident in their team’s ability to go very far in the playoffs and have a good shot. Kristin Worley, a member of the softball team and a current senior, spoke highly of her team.

  • #20 Kristin Worley scores a fun for her team in a softball game at Chico State (Ryan McCasland/Chico State Sports Information)
  • #20 Kristin Worley drops down a bunt in a softball game at Chico State (Ryan McCasland/Chico State Sports Information)

“I’m very confident with the team that we had last year,” Worley said. “Even coming into this year, all of the girls that are on the team have a great contribution with their staff. I felt we were going to go far into the postseason, potentially win that national title. We had all the potential to go all the way and possibly win it.”

Each athlete is allowed to return for another season following their senior year if they choose to. Turner Olson, a current senior and member of the baseball team plans to return to play once the team is allowed back on the field.

“I was already planning on finishing what I started in my four year Chico career by playing all four years,” Olson said. “I decided to pick up my fifth year so that I could play this year and next year.”

  • #35 Turner Olson takes a swing in a baseball game at Chico State
  • #35 Turner Olson trots home to score a run for his team in a baseball game at Chico State (Ryan McCasland/Chico State Sports Information)

Recently, the NBA Finals and the World Series ended. With those athletes able to play in the middle of a pandemic, athletes at Chico State are hopeful that the school will find a safe way to get everyone back out there, even if it means extra precautions being taken.

“Most of the country is playing again,” Olson said. “I have friends all over the United States in different regions and areas and schools. That does give me hope because they are taking the extra precautions.”

While students are putting their seasons on hold, they still manage to keep in contact with their teammates and coaching staff. Senior Malik Duffy and current member of the men’s basketball team went on to talk about his coaches checking up on the team.

“We definitely have a meeting at least once a week,” Duffy said. “[Coach Clink] always checks in with us. He always texts us in our group chat.”

  • Chico State Wildcats’ #45 Malik Duffy (center) drives against Cal State Stanislaus Warriors in the first half of their CCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in Chico, CA. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU, Chico)
  • Chico State Wildcats’ #45 Malik Duffy (left) attempts to rebound against Cal State Stanislaus Warriors’ #22 Xavier Francois (right) in the first half of their CCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in Chico, CA. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU, Chico)
  • #45 Malik Duffy throws up a shot in a basketball game at Chico State (Ryan McCasland/Chico State Sports Information)

Nobody knows how long coronavirus will hang around and there’s no guarantee they will play another game, but students are grateful for the memories they’ve made during their time as athletes.

“I’ve had an unbelievable time here at Chico State,” Duffy said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity to play at Chico State. Just grateful for my teammates, the coaches, lifelong friends, lifelong mentors. Not only just the coaches, but the faculty and great relationships all around Acker Gym.”

Alex Martin can be reached at orionmanagingeditor[email protected] or @alexmartinjour on Twitter.