HUB, couches

With seating arranged for social distancing, certain couches have been taped off to prevent students from using them in the HUB-Robeson Center on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

March 11, 2020, was a seemingly normal day for me.

At 1:25 p.m., I published an update to the Collegian website about what Penn State football players would participate in the program’s Pro Day later that spring. 

Thirty minutes later, Pennsylvania reported it had 16 cases of the coronavirus.

Then at 2:33 p.m., Penn State suspended in-person learning until at least April 3 — remember when we thought the world would just be normal again in two weeks?

However, March 11 wasn’t done there. 

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the stock market plummeted, the NBA suspended its season and Donald Trump announced a European travel ban.

In the coming days, the world came to a complete standstill and uncertainty flooded the sports world.

Now a year later, the pandemic continues to surge, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel; more than 90 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in America.

The best way I can describe the past year is tough.

My story is one of such low magnitude, a college kid that was forced to change, to adapt to the new world.

I thankfully didn’t have to deal with the struggles of so many of losing jobs or losing loved ones.

But, I will never forget going home for spring break last March, knowing the coronavirus existed but having no idea of its immensity.

In the weeks that followed were long days at the computer as news was changing faster than we could report it.

Looking back now, one of the craziest parts about days like March 11 and the news cycle is the normalcy of it all.

One hour, the Collegian was writing about UPUA, Penn State baseball and The Killers coming to perform in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Then, the next hour was the latest coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania, followed by college conferences shutting down sports and students reacting to classes being held virtually for three weeks.

There was just a feeling to those days, that week, that’s tough to put into words.

You could tell the world was changing, you could tell these were monumental events in our history, but yet there was this cling to normalcy.

As a society, we hung onto the hope of these shutdowns being temporary, but as every hour passed, it became more and more clear this wasn’t the case.

I distinctly remember at one point I was sitting at my dining room table and let out an audible curse to myself. I was just trying to process everything that was happening.

While most of what we will remember from this past year are the challenges and the struggles, there were certainly a few bright sports.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the fight against racial injustice in this country.

More and more people are willing to have the conversation and willing to fight the systematic racism that plagues our nation.

Yes, we still have a lot of work to do in regard to achieving equality for all, but it definitely took a step forward in the past year.

The debate raged about whether sports were necessary during this time, and now that we look back at 2020, we see they were every bit essential.

Sports provide an outlet, an escape from everyday life, and while they still are happening under unique circumstances, sports have helped get us through this year that has changed so much for so many people. 

So now, as we seemingly turn a corner in the coronavirus pandemic, there seems to be sustained hope for the first time in a while. We can now look back at the past year and what it taught us.

I know for me, it was very humbling and allowed me to grow as a person.

It certainly came with its struggles from a mental health perspective, and I’m sure there will be more in the future.

As someone who has luckily not tested positive for the virus to this point, there is a certain constant anxiety surrounding every decision I make.

Now more than ever, however, I cherish the close relationships I do have and the amazing people I get to virtually interact with everyday. 

So while I wish I could be spending the last semester of my senior year doing things like 55 Days of Cafe and simply playing IM basketball, I’m grateful for what I do have during this time.

And every morning, I wake up knowing that we are one day closer to reaching normal.

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