“Everything was in the air,” Siemiyanik said.
Apart from Bajakas, three other players entered the transfer portal to offer scholarships elsewhere. Two transfers, and one, tight end Coleen Moore, had her scholarship renewed.
Bazakas, however, was already deep into a master’s program for information and data science, so there was no point in leaving.
But by June, as the team planned for the summer workouts, Bajakas began to question whether returning to campus was a good idea.
Bajakas, who stands 6-foot-6, weighed 330 pounds at the time, placing him in the high-risk category if he contracted the virus. His parents are in their 50s, so they may also be insecure. He worried about catching the virus while working with his teammates, then brought it home or to people in his neighborhood.
“The thought of going back scared me a lot,” said Bajakas, who had spent many months interacting with his teammates, his girlfriend and his family.
Finally, on June 16, the day Cal announced that players could return to campus to prepare for voluntary workouts, Bajakas called Willox.
“He was very understanding,” Bajkas said. “He said that the world is crazy and everyone has to make a choice. He asked, ‘Is there any chance that I can talk to you about this or have you made up your mind?’ I told him I had made up my mind. He said, ‘Well, I respect that.’ It was not a long conversation. “