Marysville resident Nadine Muzerall, right, watches her Ohio State University women’s hockey team compete during a 2019-20 game. (File photo)
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the world of sports into a huge turmoil.
Athletics from the professional level on down to youth sports have been impacted and seen seasons either postponed or entirely shut down.
The NCAA women’s hockey tournament is among the many victims and it is impacting a local resident.
Nadine Muzerall of Marysville is in her fourth season as the head women’s hockey coach at The Ohio State University.
The Lady Buckeyes recently won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship and Muzerall was named the circuit’s coach of the year.
It was the first time in school history the Lady Buckeyes won a conference hockey championship. They did so with a 1-0 verdict over Wisconsin.
The team earned an automatic bid to compete in the NCAA tournament.
The event, however, was called off due to the virus pandemic.
The Lady Buckeyes were scheduled to play the University of Minnesota last Saturday.
“We (the team) were at the gate at John Glenn International Airport ready to fly to Minneapolis,” said Muzerall during a recent interview with the Journal-Tribune. “Our athletic director (Gene Smith) contacted me and told us to hold off all together.”
The word eventually came down the tournament was being nixed.
Muzerall, whose team was ranked fifth in the national women’s hockey poll, said the dramatic fashion in which the season ended was a huge disappointment.
“We were ready to go play for a national championship,” she said. “It was heart-wrenching and it broke the girls’ hearts.
“However, we supported Ohio State as the situation unfolded.”
Despite the abrupt halt to the season, Muzerall said she is very happy with how the 2019-2020 campaign played out with the tournament berth.
“We ended our season on a high note with the conference championship,” she said. “I truly believe we could have won the national championship and the girls feel they are the champs.
“We peaked at the right time during the season and would have gone into the NCAA tournament hot,” said the coach. “However, we have to trust this process for everyone’s health.”
Muzerall said she is especially disappointed for the team’s four seniors.
Fourth-year players on the Lady Buckeyes’ roster included defensemen Elise Riemenschnei and Jincy Dunne and forwards Rebecca Freiburger and Olivia Soares.
Dunne is a two-time All-American.
“This senior class is very special to me,” said Muzerall. “We came in together and overcame a lot of adversity.
“Previously, the team had been below .500 and we changed that into one of the best teams in the country,” she said. “The biggest challenge we faced was reshaping the culture of the program.
“We reshaped the coaching staff and remodeled the entire look in order to become a family.
“If there is any ‘comfort’ to this, it’s that everyone is going through the same emotions,” said Muzerall.
She also said the shutdown is something that is difficult to process, but added “we’re all vulnerable.”
Muzerall said recruiting has also been impacted by the shutdown.
“Recruiting is on hold until at least the middle part of April and that may be bumped back,” she said. “We can’t have any official or unofficial visits to campus by any prospective recruits.
“All of the national high school tournaments have been canceled, so we can’t see prospects play in person,” said the coach.
Muzerall said the coaching staff can use social media to promote what the Lady Buckeyes accomplished this past season.
She also said it’s been left up to each returning player to use their own devices to stay in good hockey condition for next year.
“It’s everyone’s problem,” said Muzerall. “Right now, we just can’t prepare for what we don’t know.”
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