When the Gophers softball season came to an unexpected end due to concerns over COVID-19, pitcher Amber Fiser thought her collegiate career was over.
Playing a series in Hawaii at the time, Fiser and the Gophers knew games could be postponed or even canceled. They weren't expecting it to be the remainder of the season. While they were eating team breakfast at Denny's, the word came that the season was over. Fiser didn't want her career to end.
"I'm like, 'I don't want to go out like this,'" she said.
Thankfully for Fiser, she wouldn't have to. Shortly after announcing the cancellation of the remaining spring and winter sporting activities, the NCAA announced it was considering an extra year of eligibility for spring athletes. On Monday, the proposal passed allowing all athletes competing in spring sports an extra year of eligibility. Before word of the proposal was even announced, head coach Jamie Trachsel asked Fiser if she'd come back given the opportunity. "Well, absolutely," was Fiser's response.
"I didn't hesitate at all," she said. "I called all the coaches before I made the announcement, they're all really excited to have me back. Same with my teammates, they've all reached out to me and they're really excited to have another year and see how far and how great we're going to be."
On Wednesday, Fiser announced via Twitter that she will return to finish her senior season in 2021. She had been active on Twitter prior to the Division I Council's Monday vote, spreading the message and hoping the NCAA would rule in favor of granting athletes an extra year of eligibility.
"I was not only doing it just for myself in general but just for everyone else," Fiser said. "People that felt either they didn't have a voice or were too scared to do it or whatever. I did whatever I could to help everyone else."
Fiser is one of six seniors on the Minnesota roster (Brooke Vander Heide, MaKenna Partain, Carlie Brandt, Katelyn Kemmetmueller and Kaylen Krueger) and the first to commit to returning in 2021. Trachsel has said she'd be happy to see any and all of her senior class return in 2021.
Even in a shortened 2020 season, Fiser was a force for the Gophers in the circle. She tallied 145 strikeouts and recorded a 2.17 ERA. With six seniors able to return, and Fiser officially back in the circle for Minnesota in 2021, the sky is the limit for a team that made its first ever appearance in the Women's College World Series in 2019.