By Kassidy Hart
With both tennis teams crowded around the t.v. in their resort suite, they anxiously awaited the news that could determine their fate for the rest of the semester. Not only were they scheduled to play a match the following day, but they were to return to campus and resume classes directly after spring break ended.
When they received the email that Morningside would be switching to remote learning and extending spring break, the room filled with excitement because of the possibility of another memorable week in Florida. They never would have guessed that, from that point on, life as they knew it would change.
Looking back at the tennis trip to Florida last year, senior Garrett Seamans can recall just how serious he took the news of COVID since his father had been sick for a while prior to the news.
“I kind of thought maybe there was a chance he could die. I didn’t want to see him like that ever again,” Seamans said.
His trip was followed by a self-declared quarantining due to the paranoia of contracting and spreading the disease. For a month, Seamans didn’t leave his house. He refused to let his family get fast food, even restricting himself from his own driveway. He finished the rest of his spring semester online, relieved that he would be able to social distance from his home in Wyoming but frustrated with the way academics were being handled within his individual classes.
“I remember sitting for weeks at my parents’ house, maybe doing 30 minutes of work for the whole week, and thinking ‘I’m paying for this?’ My professors seemed almost clueless with how to use any technology and It took weeks for them to figure out Zoom was the best platform,” Seamans said.
As the semester came to an end and summer began, Seamans found himself getting more comfortable with the thought of leaving his house. He was able to do things that felt like normal again, such as getting a summer job and attending his sister’s wedding.
“Our wedding was beautiful but, besides our aunt and uncle that we literally never see, the majority of our family couldn’t be in attendance. We were all pretty sad about the situation but I’m glad our immediate family could be there to celebrate,” sister Julia Seamans said.
After restricting outside contact while staying with his family over the summer, Seamans returned to campus with newfound habits due to the lifestyle he had gotten used to. He knew he would be a bit more cautious around those he hung out with but did not expect the specific feelings he ended up feeling.
“I had never felt as homesick as I did coming back. I even felt this way with the 5-week Christmas break. I have never been so homesick, and I know it is just because I had spent so much time at home with my family over quarantine,” Seamans said.
Since returning in the fall, Seamans has had to quarantine twice. Once for a close contact tracing and once, more recently, because he had strep and had suspected it as the coronavirus.
“This last time where I was actually sick, I didn’t get asked anything for contact tracing. I was student teaching and just worn down from tennis, so that probably brought it on,” Seamans said.
Not only has the pandemic took a toll on his physical health, mainly due to stress, but Seamans has also admitted to it affecting his mental health as well. He’s felt rather lonely and distanced from those he once called his best friends. He became saddened by being stuck in one routine day in and day out.
“Because Garrett took the pandemic more seriously than some of his friends back home, he lost a lot of his friends. He spent a lot of time on his own, following a routine. I felt bad and tried to be there for him but there’s only so much you can do for your adult kids,” Seaman’s mother, Vicki Seamans, said.
Now with the college’s academic schedule returning back to a more normal one, Seamans has slowly become more comfortable with acclimating to the new way of life. He says he’s not taking precautions that are so severe anymore, since time has passed, and he doesn’t want to lose the remaining months of his college experience to his fear.
“I know that in 7 months, I won’t get to do 99% of the things I did in college and I will experience the adulting world. It is just hard to see your life flash by and all you’re supposed to do is sit at home,” Seamans said.
Over the course of the last year, Seamans has endured loss – ranging from close connections with friends and opportunities with family to some of his last moments in college tennis and the social life. Yet, he’s endured, holding hope for his semester as he finishes out his senior year student teaching in-person.
“I continued to work out to keep my mental and physical check in place. I found it to be a good escape from what was going on and just tried to focus on myself,” Seamans said.
As for his next steps, graduation is not too far away and Seamans’ long -term goals have not been too harshly impacted by COVID, rather slightly adjusted to fit his newfound knowledge of friends and love for his family.