Few sounds represent the arrival of spring like that of a ball and bat colliding. It signals a rebirth within nature and a rejuvenation within all of us. The mountains of snow relegated to corners of parking lots are now but molehills. The autumn wind and the winter winds, they have come and gone, indeed. 

This spring’s coming out party will be especially grand as COVID-19 begins to migrate from windshield to rear-view mirror. Play practices, preseason workouts, and planning for upcoming events have things beginning to look like 2019 again at Marquette. The demand to gather is approaching a fever pitch.

Across Indiana - and much of the whole country - spring sport athletes were among the hardest hit. Marquette’s softball team held just three practices before hanging up the cleats. Baseball, boys golf, and girls tennis didn’t even get off the ground. Senior years were taken away in an unexpected and cruel fashion.

Cherishing each practice and each competition is a consistent theme for Marquette’s spring coaches entering the 2021 season. Three of our four returning coaches were tasked with delivering the unfortunate news to their respective teams.

“I think finally getting to springtime with fresh air and the ability to see our student-athletes perform again is one of the best remedies a doctor could prescribe. I’ve told our team to stay healthy and enjoy this time because you don’t realize how much it means until it’s lost,” Marquette head softball coach Shaun McConnell observed.

On the other diamond, head baseball coach and principal Casey Martin is gearing up for what will be his first normal season since 2018. Before a lost 2020 campaign, Martin coached the 2019 Blazers while rehabbing from injuries sustained in a serious car crash in August of 2018. His ability to hit pregame infield/outfield with one arm in a sling serves as the latest testament to his athleticism.  

“Last year gave all of us a greater appreciation for things we may have taken for granted. I still feel for the seniors who were unable to play their final season, but I hope it serves as a lesson for our returning student-athletes to play every game as if it’s your last,” Martin said.

Despite a symbiotic relationship with social distancing, golf and tennis were also casualties of the pandemic shutdown.

“Having the season gives us hope that we can move forward toward normal in the world. I’m excited for the players to have a great season,” head boys golf coach Cody Ward remarked.

Baseball is set to lift the lid on the spring season with an April 10th doubleheader at Illiana Christian. Softball will open at the Marquette Athletic Complex on April 12th vs. Hobart. Girls tennis is scheduled to take on Michigan City April 13th for its season opener. Boys golf tees it up for the first time on April 14th at Beechwood Golf Club in LaPorte.