In her four years at Taylor, Erin Cozad has experienced her fair share of victory and defeat on the field, but in the Spring of 2020, she and the Taylor University softball team would have to face an invisible opponent . . . COVID-19.
On March 11, senior Erin Cozad and the Taylor University Softball team defeated Indiana Wesleyan University in what proved to be a short-lived victory.
Cozad said this was a highlight, one she would remember for a long time.
“We played well and had fun because we did it with each other and it was a good statement to how we would have played this year,” Cozad said.
Little did they know it would be their last game of the season, and for Cozad, her last game.
On March 12, junior Lauren Kanai along with other members received a message about an emergency meeting where Head Coach Erin Kotlarz informed them that the season may be over because of COVID-19.
Despite these circumstances, Cozad remained hopeful.
On March 12, the administration announced that in-person classes would resume once again after Easter break. Cozad and her roommate were in a prayer service in Memorial Prayer Chapel when the initial news was announced.
However, her hopes would be dashed on Monday, March 15, when the season was officially over. Cozad, along with her fellow seniors had to say a difficult goodbye.
“Initially we were still on campus, I was really sad we had to say goodbye to our friends and classes . . . It was heartbreaking,” Cozad said.
COVID-19 would win another victory against Cozad and the Taylor community on March 20.
“When the actual cancellation was announced, I felt upset and bitter, I felt that our senior year wrap-up was kind of stolen from us,” Cozad said.
Cozad said she hoped to really enjoy and soak in living with her best friends and being able to participate in various traditions such as jumping in Taylor Lake at the end of the year.
She said she hopes to stay positive, have a good mindset going forward and for a proper goodbye.
According to her teammates, a positive mindset is one of Cozad’s characteristics they treasure most.
“Erin’s just a really fun, positive person to be around,” Kanai said. “I love getting to play with her, she’s a really good role model.”
Even with COVID-19’s setbacks, Cozad and some of her teammates have been able to come together virtually via Zoom. For Cozad, this has been a great encouragement.
Erin has also been a source of encouragement for others even when no one knew about COVID-19. Junior Katie Suits said Cozad is really good at loving others.
“At school or during quarantine, she’ll go out of her way to text me,” Suits said. “She shows up if I need help with anything at all. Being home, she’ll send me a text to check in to see how I’m doing.”
Suits later said it’s been a great honor to play with her and she would like to stay friends with her after graduation. Both of them plan to move to Indianapolis.
Kanai said she and the team wish Cozad could stay forever, but they wish her the best of luck in the real world.