by Jimmy Betsill
It feels like everything has come full circle. A year and a half ago I wrote an article at the beginning of the pandemic about how Mines’ athletes have lost so many opportunities to COVID. Mines was the best Division II NCAA school in the country going into the pandemic and the weekend that everything shut down we had 4 teams at National Championships. In a few months I went from running sidelines many hours a week to cleaning weight rooms with disinfectants for just an hour or two a week. We very slowly came back with limited sports in the spring.
Let me just say that these past two weeks have been surreal. We are actually back. Mines Athletics is actually back. It is a day that I never thought I would be so happy to see. In fact I would say that September 2nd was the happiest day of Mines career (even as a Senior) seeing Women’s soccer return to a crowded Stermole and football returning to a jammed Marv Kay.
I was one of the few students who were at athletic events last year as an employee for the athletic department. I got to see men’s basketball go to the Elite 8, the men’s soccer teams win an RMAC title, and most of our other sports compete in a somewhat limited fashion. There was one thing that stuck out to me through all that though, the silence. Goal, silence. Slam dunk, silence. Dig and kill, silence. Track record broken, silence. There was absolutely nothing. The emotions were barely there without the crowd and trying to create your own momentum is something that doesn’t really happen without a bunch of fans to help create it.
So I wanted to thank you for coming back in force. Thank you for coming to Marv Kay. Thank you for coming to Stermole. Thank you for coming to Lockridge. Thank you for coming out in force and making our athletic events the great experience that they are.
There is also one more group that I want to thank, the athletic department employees. Thank you David Hansburg, Carolyn Dennee, Dixie Cirillo, Tiffany McCampbell, Tim Flynn, Charles O’Dell, Rob Thompson, Scott Groner, Sam Boender, and all the others I am forgetting to list. These people have put in thousands of hours behind the scenes to make this return happen and Mines Athletics wouldn’t be making such a strong comeback without them. As always thanks to the school administration as a whole for letting them do their job to allow Mines Athletics to come back.
I just have one more thing to ask of you throughout the year. Continue to support your Mines athletes as this year goes on. Take some time to go to Marv Kay, Stermole, or Lockridge for a game. Go watch your classmates compete in their respective sport. Congratulate the athletes you see on their win when you walk by them. These are some of the best athletes in college sports. We may be Division II but most of our athletes turned down a lot of good schools to attend Mines because they wanted to be Orediggers.
The opportunities we lost this past year and a half we will never get back. The what ifs of what could have been will haunt me and everyone else in the athletic department for the rest of our lives. But we are back and let’s go and give everything we’ve got to support the athletes in their second chance at college athletics greatness.