Augie talks with Ashlyn Mathers

Ameliese Baehr-Ross

Ashlyn Mathers is a first year athlete here at Augustana. She is a 3rd baseman for the softball team from Westminster, Colorado. She is majoring in biology on the track for pre-medicine. 
Q: How has COVID impacted your sport specifically?
A: I feel like COVID has impacted my sport specifically because we are no longer able to practice as a whole group, and our hours of practice are limited. We also have to wear masks on the field which is totally new to me and all the athletes on the team. We are also constantly disinfecting our equipment such as our balls, tees and we cannot share equipment. This includes bats, helmets and other equipment.
Q: Going off of the whole mask situation, is it hard to wear a mask while you’re practicing?
A: I wouldn’t say that it’s fun, per se, but at least we are able to get on the field and practice. It definitely could be a lot worse. After practicing for a while using a mask you don’t really notice it as much. And it becomes a lot easier to practice.
Q: Do you feel that the morale of your team has been brought down because of COVID and the separation of the team when you’re practicing?
A: I feel that in the beginning, the morale was a bit low, just because everything was so new to us. But, in recent times I feel like it has been brought up because we realize that we are doing everything for the safety of our community at Augustana. And we are also still allowed to play the game that we love. So, I feel like that has helped the team overall. And the fact that we are separated at practice does not affect the team as much because the groups get mixed up. So, we get to interact with almost everyone on the team every week, but in a safe and organized way.
Q:Do you personally believe that your team is doing a good job adhering to the COVID guidelines?
A: The softball team had a bit of an issue early on in the season and [we] were getting in trouble for not adhering to the guidelines. But I think we all realized that in order to stay on campus and to continue playing our sport, we need to band together as a team, and really focus on what’s important to us. Which then, of course, means adhering to the guidelines. So you won’t see the softball team at parties, or out interacting with unnecessary people.
Q: With that good news, what benefits do you see, if any, coming out of this whole COVID situation and new guidelines? 
A: Personally, I believe that it’s strengthened me as an individual and has made me tougher and more resilient to having to roll with the punches and go with the flow. And also, I think that it’s really helpful to put into perspective what values all of us have, and to see whether or not we are willing to do things for the greater good rather than just for ourselves. I think the experience has overall really bonded us as a team further.
Q: Do you think COVID will forever alter your sport? If so, how?
A: For softball, I think the thing that will probably continue to be altered would be… the handshakes after the games, or the fact that we share balls with the other team, just because that’s a lot of unnecessary transferring of germs. And even without COVID, I think we realized that those things aren’t really necessary for our sport. By not doing handshakes after the game and keeping our own balls, it’s a lot safer and will help prevent the spread of germs overall. I also think that items such as team bats and team helmets will be a thing of the past because it’s more sanitary to have all of your own equipment out. I think this whole experience really pointed this out to all of us. I of course can’t wait to return to normal play. Hopefully if it returns to normal we will still have the same team dynamic and trust that we have already created throughout this season.