March 12: The Day College Athletics Stood Still
By Sarah Lounsbury
Thursday, March 12, 2020, started out as an ordinary day for me. I woke up to the sound of my alarm going off at 5:50 a.m. and crawled out of bed to get ready for morning weights with tennis practice to follow. When I got to the gym, the chatter among my teammates and I was normal, except for talk about the Ivy League Conference’s decision to cancel all spring sports for the 2020 season. Surely COVID-19 would not affect our team and our season, I thought.
Following practice, I drove straight to class. Once I sat down in class, I glanced at my phone to see what seemed like a hundred notifications from my teammates. Another conference, the Patriot League, had cancelled all spring sports for the 2020 season due to COVID-19, and there were rumors that the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Big Ten Conference were planning on cancelling all spring sports as well. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. While I was processing everything that was happening in the world, I got an email from my Spanish professor: no class today due to COVID-19. I felt like I was living in a parallel universe.
After class, I went back to my apartment and started packing my things since I was flying home to Kansas City that night for spring break. In the middle of packing, I got an email from my coach. The email read that our next match, which was supposed to occur after spring break, was getting pushed back a week. While this email gave me a sliver of hope that we still may be able to play, the realist in me thought no way that actually happens.
As I left my apartment for the airport, I said goodbye to my roommates; I had no idea when I would see them next. Once I got to the airport, I was waiting to board my plane when I got the notification that killed any ounce of hope I had for a tennis season: the NCAA’s announcement cancelling all spring sport championships for the 2020 season. Shortly after, the Horizon League Conference announced the cancellation of all spring sport competition for the remainder of the season.
While the COVID-19 shutdown impacted me as a student-athlete, I was able to relate my experience to my future profession in the public relations and journalism industry. No single day in the public relations and journalism industry is the same. Each day there are new problems that arise and even the most unexpected can occur. The COVID-19 shutdown showed me just that, making March 12, 2020, a day I will never forget.
Sarah Lounsbury is a junior journalism major concentrating in public relations. She is a member of the IUPUI women’s tennis team, and is the vice president of events and fundraising for the IUPUI chapter of PRSSA. She writes for the IUPUI Athletics Department.