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Joshua Lane’s Sports Journey During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Joshua Lane, aged 18, imagined his senior year of high school to go the opposite way it ended.

Throughout his high school career at Clovis High School, Lane was a two sport varsity athlete in baseball and golf. He was the second baseman for the CHS Cougars for three years. When Lane was not playing baseball, he played golf for the school. He helped lead the golf team to the CIF State Tournament as well as the Tournament of Champions in Palm Springs his sophomore year. 

In late February 2020, Lane and his team were preparing for their senior season. After a couple of pre-games in, the whole country went on lockdown in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll. Having to cancel the season along with stripping Lane’s senior celebrations such as graduation, he soon realized this pandemic was not ending soon and was possibly jeopardizing his collegiate baseball career. 

“It was sad at first in high school because it was something I worked for, not just in the season, but for a long time,” Lane said. “And then it was worse because when I realized the college season was most likely not going to happen, it was hard to be motivated to work towards that goal.”

Lane, an undeclared freshman at Orange Coast College, had the beginning of his collegiate baseball career put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. This forced him to stay in his hometown, Clovis, California, where he is limited in his ability to practice his game while he waits for the season to begin.  

Like Lane, many college student-athletes and their families have been impacted significantly by staying home and pausing their season for a year. Lane discussed how his family supported his decision, knowing the consequences and risks with the setback. 

“One reason why I stayed was due to the extreme widespread of the virus in Orange County, and I felt like I was safer at home,” Lane said. “Also, there was still no guarantee of a season and there was no guarantee of practicing, so I thought it was a better choice financially and physically.”

Many college athletes have used their time in the pandemic to work on self improvement, personal projects and reflection. When discussing his decision on taking his freshman year virtual and staying home, Lane explained what his thoughts were on halting his baseball season. 

“My parents respected my decision since their main priority was to make sure I was safe and healthy,” Lane said. “The only thing was the financial consequence it led.” 

In Clovis, Lane reflected on what he wanted to pursue in the world of college sports. Debating between his chances of baseball and golf, he began to wonder about possibilities outside baseball — if he decided to follow a different route by pursuing golf, he may have a higher chance in collegiate sports. 

“Golf, if I keep progressing to the college level, would help my family and I financially for the future,” Lane said. “It would be a dream if I could pursue something I love as my job and I feel like I have a higher chance in golf compared to the low percentage of players [in baseball] who actually make it to the major leagues.” 

During his time home, Lane confessed how he was more focused on practicing golf than baseball due to the pandemic. 

“I’ve been playing golf more, because it is easier to take safety precautions in regards to the virus, but I’ve recently been getting back into my baseball self and starting to condition and get the momentum back,” Lane said. “It’s kind of difficult because I don’t wanna put too much stress on the two or else I will not improve significantly in one area and lose them both.”

Although he deeply admires golf, Lane visualized golf as a backup plan to enter college level sports. His love for baseball, however, is much more vivid and lively; he views it as his ultimate future pathway.

“When you’re little, your teachers always ask you what you want to be when you grow up,” Lane said. “Mine was always to be a professional baseball player. When you’re young, you can dream like that, but for me, I’ve never changed.”

Baseball was an important memory for Lane, since it was an activity he grew up with since he was a child. Watching the professional games on television with his dad was a special moment they shared that contributed to his great love for the sport. From t-ball to college ball, Lane grew accustomed to the game after years of going out with his friends and playing wiffle ball, which is baseball with a plastic ball and a plastic bat. 

“I also gained more knowledge about the game by watching professional baseball every night and the next morning,” Lane said. “I would go out and play, copying the moves I saw.”

Alongside baseball, Lane has played golf since he was two years old. Lane’s grandfather introduced the sport to him and taught him the skills of the game. Lane explained how golf has consistently endowed nostalgia, since he has memories of playing the sport from traveling to numerous golf courses with friends and family to play, meeting new athletes on the course and learning new tips on improvement. These things are what has led him to continue to play golf today.  

“I remember going out all the time and playing with my grandfather and my brother,” Lane said. “Now being older, I’ve traveled the state with my close friends exploring golf courses, allowing me to fall in love with the sport more.” 

Besides his sports participation in high school, Lane had taken part in numerous clubs and volunteer work on campus throughout his time there. Some include working snack bar shifts at basketball games, being a part of his class club, and participating in the female empowerment club due to his strong advocacy of gender equality. On top of this, Lane managed to maintain a 3.8 GPA by the time he graduated in May 2020. 

After having a graduation ceremony and a summer break filled with mask wearing and social distancing, Lane had a difficult time adjusting to online college since he was not able to step foot on campus. However, he has managed to adapt and is now focusing on his skills for his future collegiate season to begin. 

Lane spends about 15 hours a week practicing baseball and golf individually, constantly keeping himself busy and on his feet. When not on the field, Lane enjoys spending time with his family and friends, making the most out of spending his college year in his hometown.

Being in Clovis for his freshman year of college has allowed Lane to spend extra time with his close friends before they go their separate ways for college. Heading to the beach and staying up all night has allowed him to get the time he might’ve not had if he went to college.

Having teachers for parents, Lane has watched the stress they had adapting to online school as well. However, he appreciates the increased time they spend together due to quarantine and staying home. Again, he explains how taking advantage of this time spent at home with loved ones has given him a sense of closure before he ventures out to college.

Throughout this, Lane is still unsure of his future plans due to the ongoing pandemic. He hopes to excel in both baseball and golf, with golf as a strong prospective sport to pursue in his future college years. 

Next semester, Lane will continue to take online classes at Orange Coast and prepare to make his mark in sports for his upcoming sophomore year. 

After his two years at Orange Coast, he hopes to transfer to a four year university to primarily play sports there as well as possibly major in criminology. Although he is not set on which university, Lane is determined to have sports play a part in his college career. 

“It was something about this pandemic that really allowed me to see what matters in life,” Lane said. “The people, the morals and the motives. I have learned more about myself over this time home, and I now understand that the things that make me happy is what I need to pursue. Make the most out of what you can, find that spark in the darkness. That is what has kept me motivated to move forward.” 

Malia Nazario is a staff writer. She can be reached at mnazario@uci.edu