The coronavirus pandemic taking the world by storm has left the Lake Michigan College baseball team in a state of limbo.
LMC finished its annual Florida trip with a 7-4 record and was hoping to keep the momentum going when the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) decided to suspend spring sports before later canceling them.
“We came back from Florida and had a few practices before decisions were made,” LMC coach Zak Wasserman said. “LMC did the smart thing and sent students home. It’s tough because the season is over and we don’t get to reflect on the effort that we put in as a team like we normally would be able to do.”
The NJCAA decided not to charge student-athletes a year of eligibility, meaning sophomores participating in spring sports can return for another season if they so choose.
If the eligibility committee approves, the NJCAA is also looking into increasing the number of letters of intent for each athletic program.
LMC, like other junior colleges, is unsure how much it will be affected by the NCAA’s decision not to charge student-athletes a year of eligibility.
“If (the NCAA) decides to not grant students an extra year of eligibility, that puts a monkey wrench in the system since a lot of our recruiting is based on what NCAA schools do,” Wasserman said prior to the NCAA’s announcement.
Stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines have made recruiting difficult during this recruiting cycle.
“Recruiting is a trickle-down process for us,” Wasserman said. “For the time being, we’re waiting to see how it all plays out. Can’t get out to see anybody right now. The MHSAA is currently suspended. Typically we’d be out on the road to go see some guys at practices and games.”
With his team’s roster scattered across the country, Wasserman and his coaching staff have been communicating as best they can with calls and texts. Wasserman realizes that at the end of the day, the onus is on the players to stay in shape amid uncertain times.
“All we can do is count on them,” he said. “It’s up to the players themselves to make sure they can stay in shape. There should still be 6-8 weeks left on the schedule right now but we’re all stuck at home. This group of young men worked hard and were excited about the season. We had the makings of a special team. We hope the team is process-driven.
“For us, we’re trying to find ways to get better. We hope that by the time they show up on campus again that they’re still eager to improve.”