STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Monday was an anxious day for Mekhia Freeman and many other NCAA athletes.
Freeman, a senior outfielder for the Georgia Southern softball team, found out late Monday afternoon the NCAA Division I Council has granted an extra year of eligibility for all athletes in spring sports. due to the coronavirus canceling a majority of their seasons.
For her, it provides a second chance at her senior year, another opportunity to play with a close knit team, and another season for her biggest fan to watch her play.
“My dad is the reason I play softball,” Freeman admits.
After a lifetime of having her father in the stands, 2020 has been different. Freeman’s father is battling health issues that have kept him away from the bleachers all season.
The Eagles had played 24 games before the campaign was called off. Mekhia estimates they are the first 24 her father didn’t catch in some fashion.
“We were supposed to play Troy, and he was going to have the opportunity to watch me play," Freeman says.
That series never happened, as the Sun Belt canceled all spring sports from the remainder of the academic year.
The NCAA says schools have the flexibility to offer returning players less scholarship money for 2021, and teams will be allowed to carry more players on their rosters to account for new recruits and returning players.
Freeman says, no matter what, she’ll be back as an Eagle next season. Hopefully, she says, to give her father even more chance to see her play.
“Just him getting another chance to see me play on my terms and his own terms means the world to me,” Freeman says.