Unlike high school spring student-athletes, those at college got to play a few games before the novel coronavirus forced all sports, both pro and amateur, to shut down in the United States. Old Colony alum Dylan Sullo was able to play in four games for the Mass Maritime Academy baseball team as a result.
The Buccaneers’ fourth and ultimately final game of the season came on March 11 at Nichols College out in Dudley. The game was played on the day Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, but before that news came down, there were still concerns about the season with conferences from other divisions making changes.
“We knew there was a chance (the season would be canceled),” Sullo, a junior at Mass Maritime, said. “It got canceled in the middle of that game, and all of our seniors found out and everything. So we had to (substitute) everybody out. We had to put all the seniors in because we didn’t know if it was going to be their last game or not.
“The bus ride home was miserable. Everybody just talked about rumors… like, ‘Are we going to get out of school?’ It was just a lot of negative. It wasn’t good. Because we had a lot of hopes for our season. This team was good.”
Now Sullo is like everyone else: stuck at home. He’s still trying to practice however he can, but that has been limited, as well.
“You can do tee-work. I am working out, yeah,” Sullo said. “But I’m honestly working out less. There’s no drive — for me anyways, maybe (for) other guys there is. But nothing is like live pitching. You need to see live pitching. It’s real tough. All these parks are closed so we can’t go (out to practice). Everybody wants to, but we just can’t.”
The sports component of a student-athlete’s life isn’t the only side being impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Sullo has to continue his studies at home like every other student. Making the switch from learning in the classroom to online presents obstacles even with basic courses. But there are other challenges Sullo has faced that other students won’t.
“I’m in seven classes right now,” he said. “And they’re making me do hands-on labs that really can’t be done online, but we have to do them online. It’s almost impossible. And then these guys that are licensed, they’re getting screwed. If they can’t go back, the seniors, they have to take Coast Guard tests and everything. And if they can’t go back for certain classes, they can’t graduate.
“A few of my professors understand and are pretty lenient and understand (the situation). But there’s a few that just dump work on you… The other thing is, if you have a question, you have to email someone and wait. You can’t get your work done.”
As the former Old Colony standout continues to work through his school without baseball, he’s been able to spend more time freshwater fishing. He also bought a Jon (aluminum) boat and is working on that as a side project.
While the distractions are fun, Sullo still misses the game he’s played since he was four years old. With the Cranberry League yet to cancel the 2020 season —Sullo plays in the summer league for the Acushnet Aztecs — he’ll continue to hold out hope that the league doesn’t follow the Cape Cod Baseball League or New England Collegiate Baseball League’s example and cancel its season so he can play more baseball in 2020.
By Nick Friar