Like many this past week, redshirt senior Jordan Kozicky saw part of his life turn upside down.
When he and his Gophers baseball teammates were heading out to the bus to leave for a road series at Air Force, the team received word to head back to the team meeting room where they were told the trip was canceled. Hours later, the Gophers were told they would not be making any other trips either, as the rest of the 2020 baseball season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Kozicky, the suddenness of the news came with an uncertainty of how to feel.
“[The] first day it was more so just stunned, and I literally just didn’t know what to think," Kozicky said. "I didn’t know if I should be sad, if I should’ve been confused or what I should’ve been preparing for, so I just kind of let it play out like a normal day."
The news comes with more uncertainty for Kozicky's future: Will he return for a sixth year because the NCAA has granted some athletes an extra season of eligibility, will he be selected in the upcoming MLB Draft or will he move on to another aspect in life? Currently Kozicky does not know what he will do because of how rapidly things have changed.
No matter what is in store in his future, Kozicky has embraced the journey he experienced while playing baseball at Minnesota. Growing up in Minneapolis, Kozicky said he was not like a typical Division I baseball recruit. He was not highly recruited, did not attend many showcases in high school and did not give playing baseball at a school like Minnesota much thought. According to Kozicky, players from his and nearby schools generally play baseball at the Division III level if they so choose. So when the Gophers offered Kozicky a spot to walk on, it was an easy decision.
Kozicky came in without a scholarship with the knowledge that he would most likely spend five years at Minnesota while redshirting in his first season. That didn't bother him though — he was more excited to play for his hometown team.
“That’s been something that I did not take for granted one bit," Kozicky said. "Being from Minneapolis has allowed people to enjoy my experience with me, and I’ve been really lucky to have that.”
Kozicky had family and friends who made it to every home game to support him during his collegiate career. His favorite moments came on the road at Georgia Tech on opening day of the 2018 season, which also happened to be his birthday. In his first at-bat, Kozicky drove a pitch over the wall for a home run. Later in the game, Kozicky cranked another home run. The moment was special for him as his family could not always make it to road games, but they were able to see this one.
Playing for Minnesota has come with many memories like this for Kozicky. And while times like these come with disappointment and uncertainty, Kozicky is trying to keep some perspective on the situation.
“It just started to become a lot bigger than baseball when you see things other than just sports getting canceled, and that’s kind of taken my mind off of the baseball aspect of it," Kozicky said. "I’m definitely still confused and [it] still feels like a bad dream, but I don’t know if I can use the word sad or anything. I’m definitely very bummed that I couldn’t finish my fifth year the way it should’ve been, but I’m also bummed for every other college athlete. I mean, literally everyone’s affected by it.”