Niese-Diving Catch

Ryan Niese diving for a catch in the infield. A freshman at Missouri Western he's seen a good amount of playing time for the Griffons. 

On March 12, 2020, myself, along with 45 other members of the Griffon baseball family, were planning to hit the road the next day to Joplin, Missouri, to take on a very solid ball club from Missouri Southern. 

Little did we know that the MIAA would suspend all spring sports in 2020 that same night. There’s a fire in the stomach that grows extremely fast when you hear that news. 

Ever since mid-August, our team has been grinding almost every day to try and gain experience that our new team did not have when the first team practices and events were held. Thirty-five new players made up the majority of the 2020 Griffons. We developed a close chemistry, and became a very tight knit family very quickly.

Day after day, month after month, we would work our rear ends off, whether that be 6 a.m. conditioning and practices or just days flooded with practices, lifting, and meetings. Regardless of what it was, our team embraced the grind.

As a freshman, it was obviously the first college-athlete grueling schedule that I had been a part of. Fortunately for me, I had dozens of experienced, older teammates that would give me tips and help me understand what it really takes to get your mind and your body through a stretch like that. 

And that defines the 2020 Griffons — whatever somebody needed, there was a teammate there to help. It was a family, and that makes an unprecedented, sudden and obscure goodbye way too hard.  

When you’re a college athlete, you go through grinds that make a single day off feel like a full week of nothing to do. So from being busy all day every day with school and baseball to being quarantined back home within the matter of days, it brings out a whole new side of us as athletes. 

We now have to improv when it comes to training. No matter where you live, it is almost a guarantee that your nearest gym or baseball training facility is absolutely shut down due to COVID-19. I think we’re all starting to get stir crazy. We’re so used to being on the go, on the move, always doing something.

Now walking downstairs to grab a snack is one of the biggest things that will happen in the day. 

Another thing that is rough with being quarantined is just missing the team. Although we have group chats and ways to communicate, it’s a heavy change when it is being compared to living with 12 baseball guys on the same floor, and seeing 45 of them every single day. 

The bottom line is that even in such a trying and unprecedented time, we all have to keep a positive outlook. Especially as athletes, and even more as baseball players, our minds get tested and put to the edge so much with such a game of baseball. Our opportunity will come again, we will be back in between the white lines, we will get this opportunity again, we have to do as much as we can, as often as we can, to try and keep our game going.

For me, I have been taking tons of swings in my basement into my cage and have also been doing compact and high intensity workouts to try and keep my body upright and in good shape. As of now, my summer league is still on to be played here in Saint Louis, Missouri. With that being said, you never know what can happen with how quickly COVID-19 is sweeping our world.  

The virus and COVID-19 has led to a quarantine that has been one of the craziest things that have ever happened to me. From being ready to travel to Joplin, to saying goodbye to my teammates and heading back to Saint Louis to quarantine. It has been tough without the opportunity to play baseball during what would usually be baseball season, right when the weather starts to get warm. 

It has been very difficult, but the thought of the future creates a motivating drive to continue to better my craft for the upcoming seasons that probably will not be taken away from a virus.

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