WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Normally, May would mark the end of the season for Wichita State men’s golf.
“During this time, we would be with the guys every day, and we would have been making seven trips this spring,” said Wichita State head coach Judd Easterling.
This year, the season ended in March as spring sports came to a screeching halt amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the team is staying connected the only way they can. Virtually.
“It’s not face-to-face, but it’s tough going to be able to see everyone every day to just being cut off,” said freshman Joe Bultman.
“I thought we needed a way to remain connected, we needed to stay on top of remaining in a team environment,” said assistant coach, Matt Walton. “This is my first year as an assistant coach for a Division I program, but I understand that there is more to being an athlete than teeing a ball up and going to class.”
The only thing on their golf schedule now? A Zoom call every Friday at 10 a.m.
“I think it’s pretty easy to fall into a negative state of mind, so having a team call with all of your guys, and trying to focus on something positive that you can take away from it is pretty much the best you can do with everything that is going on right now,” said sophomore Dawson Lewis.
It’s not required for them to attend, but Easterling is impressed with his team’s attendance.
“Every Friday morning when we’ve had these Zoom calls, almost every kid is on. It’s totally voluntary. The kids are super engaged and energetic,” said Easterling. “They’ve shared great videos and podcasts, so I think, overall, considering the state that we’re in, I think the guys are doing alright.”
Surprisingly, the virtual team meetings are not about their golf game.
“We’ve all volunteered each week, picking different videos… you can kind of see what gets somebody motivated and what makes somebody else ‘go’ on the team. It might help us in the long run when we’re on the course,” said junior Lake Leroux.
“It’s not about golf, it’s about staying positive,” said Easterling.
Easterling takes the chance each week to discover something new about his student-athletes.
“I am on mute,” he said. “I take notes, literally pages and pages of notes to help me learn about these kids and how they operate.”
It gives the team a sense of consistency – something that is hard to come by in these uncertain times.
“You have a hard day, or you hear stuff on the news, and I just know that I have an hour with the guys every Friday morning,” said Walton. “It helps my mental state, at least. I think it’s something we all needed.”