Hilltoppers reflect on life with COVID-19

Senior Taveion Hollingsworth smiles prior to shooting a free throw at Charlotte on Jan. 1, 2021, in Halton Arena.

Kaden Gaylord

Nearly a year ago, Conference USA canceled the 2020 conference championship tournament due to COVID-19. The decision effectively ended all hopes for Hilltopper basketball to reach its peak in hopes of a championship. 

When the pandemic hit America, it changed lives, especially the lives of athletes and coaches on this campus. A year later WKU head coach Rick Stansbury and a couple of the WKU student-athletes reflected on their experiences over the year, dealing with the coronavirus. 

“We’re surviving it, it affects people differently, we all try to take the positives out from it,” Stansbury said. “I don’t know if any of you all have lost personal friends or family members from it, but it is something we take very serious for sure.”

He also touched on a personal loss that he suffered recently and other deaths that have affected his life. 

“I lost one of my best friends. A guy that’s 68-years-old, with no underlying conditions,” Stansbury said on Feb. 3. “A real personal friend, not somebody that I just knew, but a real personal friend. I saw him go into the hospital three weeks ago, stay a week and come out, go back in, and didn’t make it back out. Yesterday hit as home to me as close as you can get.”

At the time of cancelation, then-junior Taveion Hollingsworth was gearing up for his third C-USA tournament when the pandemic changed his daily livelihood. 

“Just got to let everything go,” Hollingsworth said. “All the things that you did, going out to eat with the team, doing all types of things and having fun, that just had to chill out a little bit. Your social life isn’t really there, you got to think about yourself, your team, your staff. think about what you’re doing before you do it.“

Junior transfer Luke Frampton had a different experience as he was not a part of the team last year. 

“It’s been tough on us. You really do have to keep to yourself, you gotta keep your own small circle. You’re worried about everybody else before yourself,” Frampton said. “Whenever we go home or get an off day, you have to be careful about what you do because you don’t want to be the guy that tests positive when we have another test and bring it around everybody. It’s been tough but thankfully I’ve got to stay home with my wife and hang out with her quite a bit.”

Frampton was a part of the Davidson basketball team before entering his name into the transfer portal and making his way down to the Hill. 

“When I put my name in the portal, two hours later coach Stansbury called me,” Frampton said. “I never met him in person, he recruited me in high school, but I had never met him in person or anything like that and we talked pretty much every day for the next two weeks. That’s really the only contact with him, I never really had the chance to come down and visit before I committed or anything but yeah it’s been tough on all of us.”

The Hilltopper program got its first positive COVID-19 case all year, two weeks ago, canceling its series against Florida Atlantic. WKU had four games in a row canceled due to COVID cases in multiple programs. 

WKU won its fifth and sixth game in a row over the weekend against Rice despite being away from the court. There are six games left until the Hilltoppers reach the conference tournament in hopes of making it all the way through.

Men’s basketball beat reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3