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What It's Like To Opt To Stay Home For The Fall Semester

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(Photo by George Washington Athletics)

When universities across the country made their plans for fall instruction, student-athletes also had to decide if they would be returning to campus for the semester. The impact of COVID-19 on finances and the health and safety of family members ultimately led some student-athletes to opt to stay home.

Megan Osterhaus, a standout pitcher at George Washington University, had to come to the harsh realization that returning to campus this fall would not be feasible for her during these uncertain times. Osterhaus, a junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering and native of Minnesota, walked us through a day in her life at home, as well as the reasons behind her decision.

Softball America: How did you decide that it would be best to stay home during this semester?

Megan Osterhaus: I decided to stay at home this semester because of many factors. One major factor was finances. It felt like I was making a mature decision to not invest thousands of dollars for food, travel and housing at a campus where so much was unknown and where there were no guarantee of anything, even though my team did its best to communicate.

Emotionally, the mandatory quarantine and self-isolation played a factor. COVID-19 is a real concern and it should be taken seriously. A thousand miles from home, with no visitors allowed and all online classes would have been challenging for me. Even with these precautions, going to DC would be putting myself at more risk for getting the coronavirus. Thinking of possibly spreading that to my family when returning home from school seemed irresponsible.

SA: How are you keeping yourself ready for the season?

MO: For pitching, I've been lucky enough to convince my family members to catch for me, and I've also scrounged up quite a few catch nets and equipment for drills. I've been able to keep up with conditioning and fielding by utilizing nearby parks and fields, and I could easily modify weightlifting workouts with the free weights I have at home. My coaches have been keeping me updated on the pitching, defense, conditioning and lifting workouts so I can follow their schedule. I dedicate around two hours a day to preparing for the spring season.

SA: Can you run me through a typical day in your life during this semester?

MO: I get up every day at 8 a.m. and make a large breakfast and coffee, then my first classes begin at 8:35 a.m., which I take in our guest bedroom. I have converted that room into an office. I have a couple of engineering courses in the morning, and then I have a lunch break, when I also go for a walk or bike around my neighborhood. I have a couple more classes until 4 p.m., after which I spend the next hour or so getting a start on any homework.

Every day at 5:30 p.m., I go to a nearby field where I begin pitching, then move on to conditioning. I head back home and wrap up with lifting weights in my garage around 7:30 p.m. I eat a small, late dinner and spend the rest of the night working on homework or projects. I'm a biomedical engineering major, so I never seem to run out of work.

SA: What are the biggest challenges this time has brought you?

MO: The biggest challenge is that my mom, dad, brother and I are all doing online school or work at home. It's hard to relax at home when everywhere is a work zone. It becomes hard to separate the two, but since I got some practice with it after we were sent home last spring semester, I have adapted well. Another challenge is feeling like I'm doing enough softball-wise. After all, softball is a team sport, so not being able to practice with the team has me wondering if I will be ready to compete with them in the spring. I'm doing as much as I can, but unfortunately, the training isn't the same.

SA: What are you looking forward to the most when you get back on campus?

MO: I am most looking forward to finally being able to see all my teammates and coaches. Some of the new additions to the team I haven't even been able to meet in person yet, so I am excited to see them outside of a WebEx call. I'm looking forward to studying in my favorite coffee shops, libraries and campus spaces rather than in my living room. I'm excited to finally get real catchers and not whoever I can rustle up. Yet, I'm most excited to get out on the ball field and compete for the first time since March.

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