HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Just two months ago, the sports world was completely changed. Athletic events and seasons everywhere were postponed and canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. For college seniors playing spring sports, it was heartbreaking.
“I was kind of in shock,” said UAH baseball senior infielder Zach Duvall. “We were watching the TV and it just said canceled. A couple of us were sitting in the living room and it said all spring championships or whatever, and then we had the team meeting at 5 or 6 p.m. that night. We all gathered in and coach just said sorry for you guys, seniors, you know. I mean it’s over. That was a really tough day, you know, everybody was just trying to soak it all in. Honestly, it didn’t really soak in until later that night. Just talking to my parents and everything and we said we might have a chance to come back, but we didn’t really know. So just trying to soak that all in it was kind of a shock, so I don’t really know it’s all kind of numbing that everything was just over just like that because you know you prepare yourself for what it’s going to be like your last day of baseball, and you don’t wake up on that Thursday, and think that’s gonna be it.”
Those athletes are now getting the opportunity to come back for another season. Duvall decided to return and play an extra year. He said it wasn’t a difficult choice to make.
“Immediately it’s like, well let me get back out there and play right now. But then you start thinking it’s like, well for the future, you know, do I want to play into the year all of this stuff. But when it comes down to it you know I have one more year, possibly to play baseball, and then I have the rest of my life to do other things, so when it really comes down to it, I want to be able to play this game as long as I can,” Duvall said.
When asked how it felt to get to play another season for UAH, Duvall said, “It’s very exciting, especially when you know we went through what we went through that one day and just having everything ripped out from under you. Just to be able to have something to look forward to again and be able to know that we do have one more chance because we were really playing well and we’re gonna have another year with all these guys. It’s really exciting.”
“I think it’ll just be like seeing old friends, you know. It’s like riding a bike. You never really forget it. And us being around each other for so long, we know what you’re gonna get with all the guys and I think that’ll help a lot. Just to get back out there I think it’ll be exciting. It’ll be like a new appreciation for something that sometimes you take advantage of. Just, I mean, give it all I got because, I mean, we kind of had this advantage of, we know what it’s like to not have it anymore. So now that gives us extra motivation to give it everything that we got because we have this one more year and we’re lucky enough to be able to play again. So just give it everything we got no regrets,” Duvall added.
Duvall said the team’s ability to stick together during such a difficult time makes it special.
“I think just the way we are as a team is just something that I haven’t been a part of my whole career, you know. Just the way that we care about each other, the way we push each other. It’s just incredible to be around and the culture that’s in the locker room,” Duvall said. “I think that’s just a testament to the guys that we have and the coaching staff and everything like that. Just to be able to just to ride the ups and downs and be able to stick together through this. I think just the locker room and the culture there is just incredible.”
We asked Duvall how it felt to not be on the field right now.
“It’s weird. You know, I’ve played baseball my whole entire life and two months where I’m not playing baseball and I’m not going to school, all we have to do is stay in the house. You know, you just have to find new routines and that’s what I’ve been trying to do, is just find new things to do,” Duvall said.