The following was written by Denison head coach Mike Deegan in reference to the cancelation of the 2020 college baseball season due to COVID-19. Coach Deegan also authors a popular weekly email newsletter and recently released his first book, Let it Rip: Life Lessons Learned Through Sport. Complete biographies on all six seniors can be read by clicking on their names below.
"It's just a game."
If you've never been a part of sports it is hard to understand its meaning. Working shoulder to shoulder with people from diverse backgrounds for a common goal is something you can't put into words. The good times, the struggle, the trying and failing lead to a collective bond that is hard to break.
We played our last game on Saturday, March 21. That day we were supposed to be opening our spring trip in Port Charlotte, Florida. It was just the ninth game of a 40-game season.
It was a whirlwind of a week. We returned early Monday morning, March 9, from a trip to Rome, Georgia. We lost our home opener on Tuesday and picked up a convincing win on Wednesday. In some ways, it was starting to feel like our team was hitting its collective cadence when Thursday occurred. By the end of that day, the season was over.
Our 2020 season was not easy. We opened with a grueling schedule. We had some interpersonal conflicts. In a lot of ways, we were still in the storming phase.
What hurts me the most is we'll never get to see our response to the storm. That's what makes teams so special; when they must pull together and overcome the challenges. Our group never got the chance to show our mettle on the field.
These feelings are magnified for the senior class. This class was unique in that only three of the young men were here all four years: Will Krushena, Brian McAuliffe, and Vince Walker. Brad Baldinger joined us in his sophomore season and Max Dehon and Steven Verstandig became members in their junior seasons. The group, as a whole, experienced a ton of success both on and off the field.
Legendary Oregon track and field coach, Bill Bowerman, called himself a "Professor of Competitive Responses." His job was to "get you ready for the struggles and competitions that lay ahead, far beyond Oregon."
When I think of the senior class of 2020, I see a group of young men who have faced many challenges and obstacles both individually and collectively. In 2018, the unthinkable happened with the tragic passing of their classmate, Sean Bonner. We grieved, mourned and eventually rallied together to honor Sean with an amazing 2019 season.
In some ways, the abrupt end to the 2020 season was symbolic of this group- another challenging situation. It's a challenging situation that I know they are equipped to respond and overcome. The men that comprise our 2020 class will be compassionate, caring and resilient leaders.
Our baseball program is strong because of the people. Our alumni, our current roster and our future players. Our common bond happens to be a love for the game of baseball, but it is much more than that. We will be together again. We will compete again. I am excited to see how we emerge stronger because of this experience.
Lowrie and I are extremely grateful to be a part of Denison University and the baseball program. Thanks to everyone involved for making this so special. We will be back, and we will be stronger than ever.
Yours in baseball and friendship,