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Norfolk State baseball captain faces pandemic challenges head-on

Alsander Womack faces his last season looking to finish strong and enter Major League Baseball. (Photo from NSUSpartans.com, used with permission)

by Alsander Womack

In March of 2020, the NCAA spring sports world for many conferences, divisions, and athletes drastically changed. On Mar.12, the MEAC announced that the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and all spring sports are canceled due to COVID-19. Here is my story about how my junior baseball season’s loss impacted my life and collegiate career.

After defeating the Old Dominion Monarchs, we returned to campus to get ready for our next opponent. After practice, we were relaxing before getting food when we got the email from the MEAC canceling our season. My initial reaction was utter shock and speechlessness; I couldn’t even explain to my teammates what just happened. After a meeting with the team, our coach explained what was happening and discussed the team’s next steps.

Most of us decided to pack up our things and head home to see our families. My familiar five-hour trip back to North Carolina felt longer than ever as I thought about what had transpired. My pops and I rode back in silence. I received a warm welcome home with a big hug from my mom and sister, and my favorite food was prepared as a way to make me feel better. But here is what I did once I got settled in at home. Although my spirits were low, I was determined to make the most of my difficult situation. As soon as I settled in at home, I set my plan into action.

The world had not fully shut down yet, so I found somewhere to work out and train as soon as I got home. Then, things got worse, and the new government-ordered lockdowns confined me to my home. Thankfully, I had a small at-home gym and a large neighborhood, so I was lifting in the house and walking around the neighborhood with my family for the bulk of quarantine. My dad worked out with me and created several workouts to ensure I would be ready and in the best shape to play summer baseball or even go into the MLB draft. He was not the only one preparing me for the next stop. My mom took care of my nutrition and focused on what we ate and drank throughout the quarantine.

After weeks of at-home training and makeshift conditioning, I finally got back into Ultimate Performance (UP), a gym and indoor baseball facility where I grew as a player. I trained with multiple professional baseball players. Not only did they push me to another level of play, but they taught me many things about the game that I had never considered before. Every day, we worked to get better. I resumed sessions with my speed trainer and focused on being as fast and physically fit as possible.

However, as we all know, COVID was around a lot longer than anyone first expected, so the idea of playing summer baseball was no longer an option, resulting in my second consecutive canceled season and more obstacles to come. The growth I made mentally and physically prepared me to remain focused and stay on the right path to reach my end goal even though things in the world were not in my favor.

The entire summer, I spent every day at UP, hitting, throwing, lifting, and running. I wanted to make sure that I was in the best shape of my life and was the best version of myself the next time I touched a field. I trained and pushed myself to my limits every day with my goal of getting drafted well in sight.

COVID is still a significant obstacle as we approach the one-year mark since this global pandemic arrived. The work I put in while at home has indeed paid off, on and off the field. I am one semester away from graduating and one good season away from living out my dream. I was named Preseason Player of the Year for the second year in a row and received the honor of being the captain of a great Spartans baseball team in hopes to lead them to the promised land. I was lucky enough to get one more opportunity to play this game, and all the work I put in will not go to waste.

My name is Alsander Womack. My story is not the most inspiring or life-changing story. Still, it is real and shows that no matter what is going on in your life or in the world around you, there is always a way to better yourself. No matter how many times life knocks you down, you have to get back up. Push yourself, and be the person you always wanted to be, not someone who sits back and quits when times get hard.

Behold…


Adviser/Editor’s Note: This article represents the culmination of a semester-long journalism project that Mr. Womack did for his JRN 221 News Writing class. Mr. Womack completed this semester long project in half the time alloted! In 20 years of teaching college journalism, I have only seen this level of energy, dedication, and discipline a few times across thousands of students, many of them quite excellent. Obviously, he’s approached this project the way he approached baseball, living what he wrote about above and demonstrating that nothing will stand in his way of achievement, in whatever endeavor he’s involved in. With that in mind, I look forward to seeing his professional baseball career. It should be quite exciting.

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