STORM LAKE, Iowa — Buena Vista University senior infielder Ida Rogers-Ferguson saw her softball career end in a way almost unthinkable: standing in the rain in Arizona, then sitting on a bus for 27 hours.
Wet weather and a pandemic conspired to end BVU’s spring softball trip just two days into what was supposed to be a week-long experience. After four innings and a tie score, umpires and groundskeepers halted play in BVU’s first game of the trip. A steady rain, a rarity in the Arizona desert, made the field unplayable.
The same thing happened the following day, Friday, March 13. And after the cancellation of those games, the American Rivers Conference, of which BVU is a member, canceled the season, following measures taken by rest of the NCAA.
The experience became more bizarre — and more memorable — later that day when coaches learned their group flight back to Iowa couldn’t be moved ahead several days. It forced BVU officials to arrange for a charter bus to take players, coaches and support staff back to the Storm Lake campus on a bus.
So, Rogers-Ferguson capped her playing career on a 1,500-mile ride from Tucson to Storm Lake.
There is some symmetry in Rogers-Ferguson closing her career on the road. She’s been a bit of a road (and air) warrior during her undergraduate stay at BVU. The Heron Lake native, who majors in history education, has enjoyed BVU experiential learning opportunities in Israel, Poland, Austria, Germany, Greece and the Czech Republic.
She spent time in many of those countries thanks to a trip arranged to visit sites of the Holocaust, an experience that will aid her as a teacher. She spent last summer living and studying in Scotland as the recipient of BVU’s J. Leslie Rollins Fellowship, a time in which she became friends with fellow students from the U.S., Denmark, Canada, and Australia.
In that trip, she recalled directing a lesson on Holyrood Park, a dormant volcano in Edinburgh, Scotland.
On this March trip, however, she kept busy with classmate and teammate McKynze Nicholson-Hansen in making sandwiches at the head of the bus as it rolled north toward Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The pair took requests from teammates and layered meats atop cheeses, adding condiments, using food that came, in part, courtesy of the softball team.
“We’ll make the best of this bus ride,” Rogers-Ferguson announced.
After settling back into her seat, Rogers-Ferguson visited about upcoming job interviews and kept her eyes on the roadway, taking in vistas that stretched from Tonto National Forest in Arizona to the Navajo Nation, in Arizona and New Mexico.
“I’ve never been to New Mexico,” she said. “I wish our whole team could see what we’re seeing.”
While most of the BVU softball players flew back to Iowa, or to their homes with parents, Rogers-Ferguson was one of four softball players who took the bus. She spent time reading, watching movies, listening to music, and visiting with friends and coaches one last time.
“This is not how I thought our season and my career would end,” she continued. “I understand the decision and how people are looking out for everyone’s health. Still, that doesn’t make this easy.”
Rogers-Ferguson served as a role player for three seasons at BVU. She became a starter this year and looked forward to contributing on a daily basis. She spent the first seven weeks of the spring semester rising at 4:30 a.m. and completing a softball workout on campus before readying for a 40-minute drive to Lake View, Iowa, where Rogers-Ferguson served as a student-teacher at East Sac Community High School.
“I realize NCAA has allowed us an extra year of eligibility,” she said. “That won’t really apply to me, because I’m going to be teaching and coaching somewhere in the fall. I’m getting on with my life.”
Rogers-Ferguson dabbed at a tear while recounting the moment her coach, Mandie Nocita, delivered the sad news, that of a senior season wiped away. Her voice cracking slightly, Rogers-Ferguson said, “This has definitely been the most memorable spring trip we’ve had.”