Multi-sport athlete Connor McCaffery waiting to get back to work

The basketball and baseball player is not used to having down time.

Iowa+guard+Connor+McCaffery+holds+the+ball+on+the+sidelines+o+the+court+in+the+final+1.6+seconds+of+a+game+on+Sunday%2C+March+8%2C+2020+at+the+State+Farm+Center+in+Champaign%2C+Ill.+The+Hawkeyes+lost+to+the+Fighting+Illini%2C+76-78.+

Emily Wangen

Iowa guard Connor McCaffery holds the ball on the sidelines o the court in the final 1.6 seconds of a game on Sunday, March 8, 2020 at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill. The Hawkeyes lost to the Fighting Illini, 76-78.

Robert Read, Sports Editor


As a multi-sport athlete who can be seen in the outfield for the Iowa baseball team after he finishes his season as a starter for the Hawkeye men’s basketball team, Connor McCaffery doesn’t typically have much of an offseason.

Typically.

Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s at home and like most other people — waiting to get back to work.

“It’s so weird not having anything to do,” McCaffery said. “I think just being able to join up with baseball was just the plan this year, and now that I didn’t get to do it, it feels weird. I’m bored, I’m anxious. I feel like I should be doing so much more, but you can’t really.”

COVID-19 forced both the Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments to be canceled, along with the remainder of the 2020 baseball season.

Since playing sports is not currently safe and he’s mostly staying at home, McCaffery has the time to do the things most college students may take for granted.

“My days are pretty consistent,” McCaffery said. “I’m doing a lot of school work. I’m watching a couple shows on Netflix, playing some video games, working out. That’s all I really can do. I haven’t been really leaving the house. I’ve been pretty distant from everything. If anything I’ll go and get groceries from Hy-Vee, but that’s pretty much it.”

It’s not quite playing college baseball, but it will have to do.

“Well it’s good [there’s no baseball] right now considering it snowed,” McCaffery joked. “It’s freezing outside — I don’t know if I’d want to be playing in that.”

McCaffery and the rest of the men’s basketball team were only hours away from tipping off in their first game of the conference basketball tournament on March 12 when the news broke that the tournament had been canceled.

Only hours later, sports were done for the spring.

“I almost didn’t believe it,” McCaffery said. “It didn’t even hit me what was happening because it all happened so fast. We’re in Indianapolis just all hanging out. Everyone was together, not too down. Then the NCAA Tournament hit and then spring sports hit, so it was just all happening at once for me, and I’m sure for everyone else, too. It was almost too much to handle.”

The Iowa baseball team had just completed a two-game sweep of Kansas at Duane Banks Field when it was decided the season was over. Head coach Rick Heller held a team meeting to break the news.

On March 30, the NCAA announced that it had granted spring-sport athletes, including baseball players, an extra year of eligibility.

“I was happier for the seniors and the other guys on the baseball team,” McCaffery said. “Obviously the younger guys are affected too, but having your senior season affected by something like this is just so unfair. So the fact that the NCAA ruled in favor of that, I was really happy. So many guys will get to play out that senior year, enjoy that time with the team and play. I think that’s really what needed to happen and it’s going to be beneficial.”

The future of sports is still very much uncertain at this point. It’s not clear whether or not McCaffery and the men’s basketball team will be cleared to take the court when the start of the next season is supposed to tip off.

If star center Luka Garza pulls his name out of the NBA Draft, paired with Jordan Bohannon and Jack Nunge returning from injury — Iowa should be a contending team next season, whenever that is. Between now and then, all McCaffery and the other Hawkeyes can do is prepare the best they can.

“I think we all know that we can definitely be a special group next year and we’re all motivated with that,” McCaffery said. “But at the same time, I think we’re all extremely competitive, and we’re not gonna take anything for granted. We all know that we’re gonna have one goal next year, and we all know what we can accomplish.”

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