Locker room closure forces baseball to adapt
“I got next” were the words frequently belted out as players entered into the baseball locker room at North Campus to signify that they would play the winner of one of the popular games in the lounge area at the facility.
Those words are just memories now, and anxious players hope they soon can enjoy the televisions, pool table, ping pong table, and bubble hockey platform with their teammates soon again.
When competition ended after a game or intra-squad, players would unwind with games where the winner would stay on until he was defeated by a fearless competitor who wanted to climb the honorary leaderboard kept by the team.
In an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the administration has opted to deny locker room access for baseball players and staff.
Freshman and first year members to the program miss out on team bonding experiences that other members of the team have had in the past.
This has forced players to transform a traditional locker room to one on wheels, where players use their vehicles for storage.
Developing camaraderie and chemistry is important in aiding players in adapting to a new environment and thriving in a team atmosphere.
“It takes away a place for them to get together and be able to have friendly competition whether it’s playing pool or ping pong,” Chandler Purcell, second year assistant baseball coach, said. “Just being able to have a place to hang out off the field and be able to get to know one another is something that is important and we haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet.”
Not only has it taken away the fun, but it has eliminated a chance for players to improve.
“It has taken away opportunities for guys to get work in when no one is looking and being able to get better whether it’s on the weekend or later on in the afternoon,” Purcell stated.
The north campus baseball locker room has approximately 60 full-sized lockers to store equipment, jerseys, shoes, bats, gloves, and other accessories.
In the past, if someone forgot a pair of practice pants, or brought the wrong team attire for the day, they could simply exchange the item in their locker. Now, it gets a little trickier when items are forgotten and redshirt freshman Jase Wallingford has experienced some of these problems.
“It is rough because you aren’t able to go up there and get what you need,” Wallingford said. “Last week I was unable to get a pair of baseball pants because the locker room was not open.”
It was more complicated because of Wallingford’s large six-foot nine frame, which is the largest on the team and he had no option to borrow from anyone else.
In Wallingford’s first year at QU, he consistently spent time at the locker room in between class to catch up and build relationships with new teammates.
“Last year I spent 10-12 hours a week up there,” Wallingford said. “This year since I live farther away from campus, I’d probably spend more time than that.”
The team is allowed to lift weights and practice together, but the locker being off limits has caused some frustration for players not agreeing with the decision to restrict access to the indoor facility.
“I don’t agree with it because we know of everything going on so we are cautious about what we do and we don’t see anyone other than our teammates,” Wallingford said.
There has been no date set for when locker room access will be allowed, but the indoor building which has cages and mound areas is frequently used in the winter months when the temperature drops.
“They are going to have to let us inside at some point and they will more than likely limit the amount allowed in for each time slot,” Purcell said.