BYU Athletes, Coaches Offer Thoughts On Pandemic

Jul 6, 2020, 1:12 PM | Updated: 1:16 pm
Kalani Sitake - BYU Football...
BYU Football head coach Kalani Sitake (Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo's Jaren Wilkey)
(Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo's Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – BYU student-athletes and coaches gave their thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic.

The athletic department released their annual report, highlighting the past athletic year with the best moments in both men’s and women’s sports.

A portion of the report was dedicated to quotes from student-athletes and coaches at BYU that gave their thoughts on the current situation in the world with the pandemic.

Kalani Sitake, Head Football Coach

“We are going through the same process that everybody is going through,” Sitake said. “But at the same time just being really mindful of others and focusing on the positives. I have seen a lot of families hanging out together and people rallying around each other. I have just been really impressed with mankind altogether and being able to take care of each other. It gives me a lot of hope that we love and care about.”

Mark Pope, Men’s Basketball Head Coach

“The moments this basketball team got to experience this year, the epic moments and incredible storylines, all the things we got to share with each other and the fans, it almost seems selfish to be sad that we didn’t get more,” Pope said. “We can and should go on and on talking about the incredible experiences that we shared together. It’ll be sweeter and sweeter for the rest of our lives.”

Mike Littlewood, Baseball Head Coach

“These guys really know how to compete, and that is something you just can’t teach,” Littlewood said. “I would have loved to see how all of our young guys progressed through the conference season; I know they would have been great. I believe Cougar fans have good reason to be excited about the future of BYU baseball.”

Shawn Olmstead, Men’s Volleyball Head Coach

“We believed that we were the best team in the country, and it had the makings of a pretty spectacular season,” Olmstead said. “We can take pride and joy that we finished No. 1 in the last poll. There were so many good teams out there and there was still a lot of season left to play, but I had all of the confidence in the world in my boys going down the stretch.”

Holly Parkinson Hasler, Women’s Tennis Head Coach

“The last few weeks have been difficult, but if there is one thing we learned as a team this past year, it’s that we can get through anything together,” Parkinson Hasler said. “The girls have so much to be proud of. While it was an unfortunate ending, we were able to see tremendous growth towards what our program is becoming. We want to thank our players, staff, athletic department and fans for their continuous support. The future of BYU women’s tennis is bright and I’m grateful and excited to be a part of it.”

Ed Eyestone, Director of Track & Field

“It’s very surreal,” Eyestone said. “These are unprecedented times we’re living through. The decisions being made in terms of shutting things down are saving lives, so that’s very important. We had our team down in Albuquerque, New Mexico, getting ready for the indoor championships. We were very excited about our prospects. Our athletes had worked so hard to get in a position to compete at the national meet. But I’m so proud of them for making the best of a really tough situation.”

Jake Toolson, Former Basketball Guard

“It’s been incredible,” Toolson said. “As sad as everyone is and as heartbreaking and as difficult as this situation is for everyone, we were all in this thing together. We all had so much on the line. I’ve felt the overwhelming support from the fans and have reflected on what was one of the best years ever for this program and for me personally, the best year of my life. This team was so special. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to come back and be a part of this.”

T.J. Haws, Former Basketball Guard

“It’s one of those seasons where we had so much adversity,” Haws said. “We had times that were as hard as they come and times that were as good as they come. We had a lot of extremely fun wins. We had a senior night that is arguably the greatest senior night of all time. We had a lot of fun wins on the road. The list of adversity goes on and on with injuries, suspensions, a lot of tough stuff. Despite all of that hard stuff, our team just battled every single day and we grew closer. When you’re done with a season like that you look back and there’s no regrets. We gave it all for this team and we put ourselves in a great spot for a great run.”

Whittni Orton, Senior Distance Runner

“I felt like I didn’t have anything to show for my whole year of working for hours every day and continually sacrificing,” Orton said. “Then I looked back and realized that I had a ton to show for it. There have been a lot of hidden blessings. Working hard like that is never something you regret.”

Davide Gardini, Sophomore Outside Hitter

“It’s been a bittersweet situation,” Gardini said. “When we heard the news it was heartbreaking. Everyone this year was so involved and focused on one goal. We wanted to build a culture and we wanted to win. We know we did some good things and we know if we put in the hard work we can do it again next year.”

Kennedy Cribbs, Sophomore Diver

“I found out in class that they’d canceled NCAAs and I cried in OChem (Organic Chemistry class),” Cribbs said. “I think the teacher thought it was because of OChem, and I definitely do cry because of OChem. I had to think about the fact that I still have more seasons to go; I’m super competitive so this is adding more fuel to my fire.”

Rylee Jensen-McFarland, Senior Outfielder

“When I heard that the NCAA had said they would consider giving spring athletes more eligibility, I was extremely happy because that is how it should be,” Jensen-McFarland said. “The virus can’t just take that away from us. I feel like I have left my mark on BYU, but I just want to make sure to leave no doubt about it. For now, I am making the most of time with my family, staying healthy and ready for whatever the next thing might be.”

Elise Romney, Senior Pole Vaulter

“Right now, I’m focused on getting in better shape so that when I can jump again, I’ll be ready,” Romney said. “Next year I hope to make it to nationals and be even better than I was this year. Embrace every opportunity that you have to be kind to somebody and be your best self. Sports in general, it can all be over in the blink of an eye because of an injury or the end of your career, so enjoy every part of it.”

Zach McWhorter, Freshman Pole Vaulter

“After having it taken from me, I’m going to come back stronger,” McWhorter said. “I’m going to train harder. Each day is a blessing and I’m not going to take it for granted.”

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