Iowa softball prepared for unusual practices

After not being together in-person since March, the Hawkeyes are ready to hit the practice field, though it will look different than it normally would.

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Jenna Galligan

Iowa Head Coach Renee Gillespie walks to join the team during an Iowa softball game against Iowa Central at Pearl Field on Friday, October 4, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tritons 4-0 in 10 innings.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor


The Iowa softball team cannot play any games until next spring at the earliest, after a 17-5 record in a shortened 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That doesn’t mean the team can’t practice and keep its momentum in the fall, however. Though the Hawkeyes can’t play against other teams in the fall, they begin practice this week.

It’s been a long time since the team’s been together in person. The 2020 season was canceled on March 12, but the team stayed connected after that.

“We did a lot of Zoom meetings, which was the first time I think we all understood what Zoom was,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “And [we] did a lot of leadership programming for them throughout the summer.”

“The Program” led the leadership programming. According to its website, “The Program” was founded to provide collegiate and professional teams with leadership development and team building. Gillispie said “The Program” gave her team the ability to take and give directions. Gillispie’s athletes also learned how to put teammates first via teachings from the “The Program.”

On top of the leadership programming, the players got a chance to connect with alums. There, the alums would tell their stories about when they were at Iowa, and help the current team stay focused and strong through these tough times.

Strength and conditioning were also part of the team’s summer plan, which Gillispie said was hard with most workout centers being shut down.

Regardless, assistant coach of strength and conditioning Cody Roberts put together a plan for the team which could be followed wherever a player was living, such as in a garage or basement.

All the incoming freshmen had a chance to play softball over the summer, though some had to play outside of their home state due to restrictions. Others – like sophomore infielder Nia Carter – were not so lucky.

“For me personally, I just worked out every day and try and stay in shape,” Carter said.

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With the team returning in person today, it will look a lot different than any time the team has been together before. The team will be split into smaller groups while doing workouts and drills.

The Hawkeyes will have a split scrimmage on Fridays, so they can have competition while they can’t play other teams.

“I think it’ll work,” Gillispie said. “I think what we’ve got planned for them to get separation. Wearing a mask every day at practices, coaches included, so we’re really looking to keep them healthy and our main goal this year is to keep them healthy so that we can have a season. We need to make sure we’re doing the right thing for them and the people around them.”

The situation hasn’t been easy on the coaches as well. Gillispie lives with her parents, who are both in their 90s, so she is doing everything she can to keep them safe from COVID-19.

Even with COVID-19 making Iowa softball’s next game date unknown, anticipation for the coming season is still mounting.

“I’m really excited for the season because I know we have a lot of new girls,” Carter said. “We have ten incoming freshmen. So, I’m excited to see how they do and how they’ll fit in with the team and stuff. And we have a lot of good returning players. So, I’m excited for when the season comes around.”

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