Virginia Tech Mens Baseball vs Bryant Bulldogs

The VT Baseball team high-fives before the game against Bryant, March 1, 2020.

With the winter sport season in full swing and the spring schedule coming up, Hokie athletes continue to adjust to COVID-19 protocols, whether it be in games or in training. 

Though teams are following strict guidelines to ensure the safety and health of players, student athletes have had to adjust to unfamiliar protocols such as wearing masks during training and practices and maintaining a six-feet distance indoors to ensure social distancing. 

Tanner Schobel, a freshman infielder on the baseball team, described how the team goes about their training with COVID-19 guidelines. 

“You go to the weight room, the lift room and the locker room with a mask,” Schobel said. “We basically have masks on any time we are within six feet of each other.” 

In indoor settings, athletes must wear masks during all exercises in which team members are in close proximity. 

Schobel described how wearing masks while doing physically exerting workouts could present a challenge. 

“We do a lot of intense workouts where it’s really fast-paced and demanding on your body, and we have to do it with a mask on since we’re indoors,” Schobel said. “In the weightroom, it’s a little tricky to perform well because anybody that plays a sport knows that it’s hard to without being able to breathe well. The masks are definitely a challenge.”

However, Schobel described that with baseball in particular, masks didn’t necessarily present a challenge on the field.

“Baseball is not a very high-tempo sport so you can kind of get away with wearing a mask and being alright,” Schobel said. 

Aside from wearing masks and social distancing, the pandemic has also changed the spring schedule. Instead of having 56 games during a regular season, the baseball season will comprise of 50 games. Additionally, crowd sizes remain smaller than in regular seasons with each player receiving three tickets to give to friends or family for home games. 

Furthermore, rosters look different this year because of last season’s COVID-19 shutdown, which may affect who gets to play.

“When COVID(-19) happened, they had a short year for our season,” Schobel said. “Our roster is a little bit bigger this year compared to last year just because a lot of kids missed out on that opportunity to play.”

Though roster changes may not affect every team, many athletes who would have gone to the draft ended up staying in Blacksburg, which has lessened the chance for freshmen to get playing time. 

“A lot of people are missing out on opportunities to play because of (COVID-19),” Schobel said. 

In terms of traveling, athletes also have to adjust to COVID-19 safety measures as they vary by state. Specifically, Schobel described how measures will most likely be different when the team travels to Miami in late February. 

When it comes to restrictions on what athletes can do while traveling, Schobel described how traveling to new places for games won’t be as enjoyable as it would be during a regular season. 

“It’ll be hard going to places like Miami and Charlottesville that are so cool to see when we’ll just be trapped in a hotel,” Schobel said. 

Schobel described his hopes for the future once COVID-19 presents less of a threat as an athlete.

“The main thing I miss is being able to train and workout to my full potential,” Schobel said. “It’s been really hard to get a full workout to your best ability. That’s one thing I’m looking forward to again: not having to wear a mask and being able to do peak physical performance.” 

Hopefully, athletes are still able to make the most out of their seasons while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, and fans can soon return to watching their favorite sports in person.