Athens High School graduate Tyler Forbes was just beginning his final baseball season at West Chester University when the outbreak of COVID-19 brought everything to a halt.
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the NCAA made the decision to put the spring sports season on hold to help contain the spread of the virus.
Forbes described the time leading up to the decision, which began with a canceled trip to Florida. He said the team had an idea of what was coming after the WCU softball team canceled an upcoming trip.
“It was all in like a week span when we found out. It wasn’t right away, so we had time to prepare for it,” Forbes said.
“We were down in North Carolina on a trip when they canceled our Florida trip,” he said. “So at that time we kind out figured it wasn’t looking good for the rest of the season.”
By the time the team had returned to West Chester, there was still no clear direction on the situation.
“When we came back from North Carolina, we had two practices because we weren’t really sure,” Forbes said. “And then the second day of practice we had, they sent out a mass email to the students saying they were moving classes online. So at that point, we kind of just figured that the season wasn’t going to continue. We were kind of preparing for it.”
The NCAA decided to suspend all spring sports on March 12. At that point, the WCU baseball team was 7-2 and getting ready to start its conference schedule.
“As a team, we were at that point where we were starting to click, so it really sucked that we had to really shut things down. This team … won’t ever be able to play together again, so it was sad. At the same time, it was just something we had to get through together,” Forbes said.
“At first, obviously we’re all going to be upset with our season just being cut short because of the coronavirus, but I know in the long run it’s better for everyone’s safety and health.”
For now, Forbes says, it’s time to look forward.
“Now I’m fine with it,” he said. “I’m just getting used to things and I still have to take care of classes that are online for the rest of the semester.”
Players have been given the option of an extra year of eligibility — something Forbes has thought about, but not decided on. For him, a lot of it depends on if he decides to pursue a Master’s degree, as this is his final academic year at West Chester.
“Of course it’s in the back of my mind,” he said. “Right now … I’m not totally sure what I’m going to do. I’m just going to take these two months that I have left of classes to really think about it and talk with my parents and coaches to see.”
Forbes is also turning to some of his teammates for help with the decision.
“I know other guys on the team who are fifth year (seniors) already, who are more than likely going to come back. So that’s going to help me decide what (to) do.”