When the news broke back in March that the spring athletics season would not continue at Salisbury University, nobody was quite sure what was to come.
From that point on, COVID-19 has taken its toll on the sports world in a substantial way. Salisbury University athletics have been no exception.
For head men’s lacrosse coach Jim Berkman, the past several months have been not only a series of inconveniences, but a disruption of the way of life for his program.
“This is our livelihood,” Berkman said. “What do lacrosse coaches do during the months of March, April and May? We coach lacrosse. And you just can’t do that through Zoom.”
One of the biggest areas that the pandemic has impacted the team is with incoming freshmen.
With the closure of Maggs Physical Activities Center as well as the University Fitness Club, it has become much more difficult for players to get their offseason work in.
“It’s been especially difficult for some of our younger guys to get up to speed,” Berkman said. “But our guys have still found a way to get better. I don’t think there’s a single guy in our program that doesn’t have an off campus gym membership.”
Berkman credits many of his upperclassmen, such as Brad Apgar, Jarrett Bromwell and Cross Ferrara, for being leaders during this time and helping the freshmen become acclimated in the most usual way possible.
Perhaps the toughest aspect of this journey for Berkman has been the lack of in-person interaction between him and his players.
“We’ve just got to get back to life as we know it,” Berkman said. “It’s hard for us to get better if the guys aren’t actually out on the field and I’m not on the sidelines with them."
Despite the hardships, one area where Berkman said the program was able to maintain some normality was recruiting over the summer.
“For Division III, there weren’t as many rules for us as there were for the [Division I] programs,” Berkman said. “And most of the summer camps were still going on, so we still had the chance to keep an eye on some of the guys that we were interested in.”
Salisbury baseball head coach Troy Brohawn said his program has also had to make several adjustments to how they approach the recruiting trail.
“Half of the summer was really nothing for us with a lot of the summer tournaments being cancelled,” Brohawn said. “On top of that, it’s been difficult at times for us to get out and see everybody due to mileage limitations.”
One silver lining in this situation for both of these programs is that many of their seniors are expected to return for an additional season, since the National Collegiate Athletic Association granted spring athletes an extra year of eligibility.
This, of course, throws a wrench in things as far as future recruiting goes, as both teams will have a reduced amount of roster spots for prospects in the coming years.
Brohawn says the added year of eligibility will make for plenty of competition on the diamond.
“One thing we always tell our guys is ‘If you don’t love competition, then there isn’t a spot for you on this roster,’” Brohawn said. “I expect the added competition to make a lot of guys better.”
As for the men’s lacrosse team, Berkman expects to bring back one of the more talented rosters he has coached in a while. Considering the program’s track record, this speaks volumes about what may be in store for the team in 2021.
For now, both programs continue to adapt and develop ways to get better in the midst of circumstances that are less than ideal.
By THOMAS WEST
Featured photo from Sports Information.