Nebraska's assistant coach Will Bolt at third base
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Will Bolt, Players Adjusting to Life Without Nebraska Baseball

March 23, 2020

Nebraska was getting ready for a weekend series with Wichita State when weather threatened to complicate things. The Huskers were scheduled to take the field against the Shockers at 3 p.m. CT on Friday, March 13, but bad weather had everyone involved thinking it might be best to move the game earlier in the day.

It didn’t end up mattering. The American Athletic Conference called and said they would be canceling all sports schedules. The Big Ten and NCAA followed suit, canceling the remainder of both winter and spring sports for the rest of the school year. Nebraska’s season was finished after only 15 games.

Will Bolt joined Sports Nightly on Monday to talk about the last couple of weeks. Nebraska’s new coach—only in his first season at the helm—said the first few days “felt like a month” and “crawled by.” The players were out of their routines and there were plenty of emotions for everyone involved.

“You kind of go through a bunch of different stages with it,” Bolt said. “I think you’ve got the initial shock, almost disbelief where you’re going from playing a Wednesday game in front of about 4,000 Husker faithful, you know, to getting on a bus on Thursday to that weekend series isn’t going to happen to a short amount of time later the season isn’t going to happen. It’s just a lot of different stages to this where you’re having to get over the initial shock and then you realize how big this issue is globally, nationally, not even taking sports into account and just people’s well-being and their health and those kinds of things. You’re making sure your players, their parents, your loved ones,  your family, your staff’s family are all in a good place and that’s kind of where we’ve been.

“I will say this that having some family time that’s not normally there, that’s something I’m not taking for granted at all.”

Bolt said he believes his players have gotten over the initial shock now. That means everyone has moved on to finding what’s the next best solution despite not having many answers. It still means plenty of adjustments need to be made.

“We’re used to having no down time,” Bolt said. “We’re basically used to having Mondays as an off day where we can kind of reintroduce ourselves to our families and just kind of catch our breath and collect our thoughts from the weekend and those types of things. This is a totally different ballgame just in terms of the downtime, the family time, which again has been such a blessing and the silver lining in all of this that we get to spend so much more time with our families. Baseball coaches and baseball players tend to be creatures of habit because it is an every day type sport so we’re all having to find ways to keep ourselves occupied at this point.”

For now, Bolt’s doing his best to keep everyone on track and to check in on both players and coaches in his program. That means he’s thought quite a bit about what the loss of the season means, especially for his seniors and his freshmen. He doesn’t know what will happen yet—although the NCAA and Big Ten are already having discussions on the eligibility issues—but Bolt sees both sides to the argument.

“I for one would like to give everybody a year back. Right off the bat that’s the kneejerk reaction, especially because we only played 15 games and it’s not fair, just like it’s not fair to the seniors, it’s not fair to some of the freshmen that may have only had an at-bat or two or an inning or two on the mound to have to lose a year for that. By the same token, the kneejerk is not always what’s necessarily going to be the smartest so I don’t have an answer for what the smartest is. I can tell you I would love to give every kid a year back because they worked so hard and you feel like it got ripped away but I also understand there’s a lot of other things that go into it. Scholarship numbers, roster sizes, where’s the money going to come from for the extra scholarships across the country, just eligibility issues.

“There’s just a whole lot of other moving parts when it comes to that so would I like them to get a year back? Absolutely. Do I understand that sometimes life’s just not fair and things that are bigger than baseball play into it? That’s part of it too.”

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