From zero to 18: a historic year for Trinity athletics comes to an end

Thank you to everyone who allowed us to cover these two wild semesters

Seven paragraphs in a midsummer press release was all it took to completely disrupt life as a Trinity Tiger. That press release came from Lawrenceville, Georgia, where the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) announced that no sports would take place during the fall 2020 season.

Everyone knew it was coming, yet the news still shook me to my core. No Friday night doubleheaders at Paul McGinlay Field seeing the soccer teams dominate their competition. No Saturday mornings waking up and heading all the way towards Prassel to take in some college football in Texas. No Sundays spent wondering how the volleyball team could win so quickly in three sets.

First and foremost, the decision to cancel fall sports hit me as a fan. Sports are my passion, and I had just started to get a feel for how things went for Trinity athletics when President Danny Anderson’s email on March 11, 2020 abruptly shut down the spring season in my first year of college. I was devastated to know that now, there would be no action to follow throughout the fall semester of 2020 either.

My second thought took me to the people who make it all happen. I was heartbroken that the student-athletes who put their entire lives into performing both in the classroom and in their sport were losing the ability to do what they love.

As the sadness took over, it soon dawned on me that I was missing a key part of how this decision would impact me. What does the Sports Editor do when there’s no sports?

I was not completely sure of that answer myself, but I did know that the sports section would go on in some way. Just because there were no games to cover did not mean there were no stories to tell.

From the get-go, we did come critical reporting explaining that athletes would still get to train despite there being no games, discovered that Trinity would not be cutting sports unlike so many other schools and explored how facilities like the Bell Center would change to help the Tigers stay safe while staying in shape. This was just the beginning.

Digging deep to find stories resulted in learning how first-year athletes felt about their debut seasons getting delayed and how Daniel Martinez worked harder than ever to help student athletesstudent-athletes improve their mental health during such strenuous times. And ahead of the 2020 election, our section dove into the interactions between sports and politics, such as reporting on the volleyball team winning the campus-wide TurboVote competition, and hearing what Political Science and Communication professors thought about voting at arenas like the AT&T Center.

As well as the sports section was handling such a difficult fall, good news arrived on Dec. 7, 2020. The SCAC — in a much happier press release — announced that fall and winter sports would get to play in the spring. This would be in addition to normal seasons for spring sports. Slowly, hope creeped into Tigers everywhere.

At the same time, however, a whole new challenge presented itself to the sports section: After having no sports to cover in the fall, there would be all 18 sports to cover in the spring. Impossible, right? Wrong.

Thanks to the dedication of reporters Alejandra Gerlach, Gail Hodges Grady, Luke Terry and Paige Wallace, we managed to cover every sport at least once while covering several sports multiple times. Whether it was round-by-round coverage of the basketball teams’ road to the SCAC finals, features on success by Tigers on and off the field, or highlighting the unique way transfer players have helped the baseball team, these four reporters brought the best of Trinity to the community.

Those stories would not be as crisp as they are without the help of our staff’s many amazing copy editors. All of the beautiful pictures and illustrations accompanying the stories would not be there if it weren’t for our incredible photographers and illustrators. And of course, nothing from this past year would have been possible at all without the fearless leadership of Managing Editor Genevieve Humphreys and Editor-in-Chief Kayla Padilla, who managed to pull off the unthinkable: high-quality newspaper publication in the middle of a global pandemic.

Katharine Martin, our spectacular faculty advisor, deserves special praise for motivating us all even in the worst of times. If there was ever a point I felt like slowing down, all it took was a quick visit to K-Mart’s office to provide the necessary motivation to keep going. Just because there was not a physical newspaper did not mean journalism was not happening, and K-Mart helped remind us all of that throughout the spring.

I also want to thank Trinity’s Department of Athletics for working with our staff throughout this crazy year. From helping our photographers gain safe access to games and providing photos of events we could not cover ourselves, to streaming every home game of the Tiger Network, Athletics helped ensure our section could tell the important stories of the 2021 Trinity Tigers.

I sincerely hope we never have 18 sports happening at the same time again. I also hope that fans can safely return to games so that cardboard cutouts never have to cheer on the Tigers again. But just because I hope to return to normal — whatever that means — does not mean I will soon forget this past year.

When things were darkest, sports managed to bring the light, and that light then stayed on because of the tireless efforts of so many people. Whether there were zero or 18 sports, I could not be prouder to have been the Sports Editor in this monumental fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. Thank you for letting me read the first draft of Trinity sports history.