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Griz NationGrizzly Athletics shares how the pandemic impacted UM student athletes
It was the morning of March 12 in Boise. The Grizzly men’s basketball team was practicing prior to beginning their Big Sky Conference title defense later that evening against Idaho State. The sports landscape across the country was changing rapidly. One-by-one conferences were canceling basketball tournaments, even pulling teams off the floor during a game, because of fears surrounding COVID-19. The wave hit Boise late morning.
In a matter of hours, we went from planning and preparing for an exciting matchup with the upset-minded Bengals from Pocatello, to clearing out hotel rooms, packing up buses and making the drive back to Missoula. Basketball was finished.
By early the next week, competition in the spring sports of outdoor track and field, softball, golf and tennis were abruptly canceled. Student-athletes who had worked hard and prepared for weeks were told to stay out of athletic facilities. Academic offerings moved remote, competition and practice halted, recruiting was suspended, seniors were left wondering what was next. This new normal felt anything but normal.
To say we all felt a bit uneasy is an understatement. However, I am proud of how our coaches, staff and especially our student-athletes adjusted and made the most of a strange and somewhat lonely new normal. We in athletics are gatherers by nature. Being a member of a team becomes an identity, and supporting each other is a common trait.
There are many unknowns, which requires us to rise to the challenge with flexibility, compassion and grace – qualities that are inherent for Grizzlies.
We will extend season ticket renewal deadlines and are happy to work one-on-one with fans who need extra help. In these troubling times, we must work together with our fans and partners, whose support is unmatched. Your commitment to this University and to Grizzly Athletics is both humbling and inspiring.
I know a few things for certain. First, we will get through this. It will pass in due time. Second, our student-athletes, coaches and staff will continue working tirelessly representing the best of UM. Finally, during challenging times, the true spirit of the Grizzly emerges. I am honored to be a Grizzly, alongside all of you. May we gather soon.
Kent Haslam, Director of Athletics