Nick Schepens was excited for his senior season of baseball at Archbishop Spalding.
When the COVID-19 epidemic interrupted those plans indefinitely, Schepens, like everyone, had unexpected time on his hands.
He decided to put those hours, and hands, to good use by creating gifts for his neighbors.
Taking scrap wood from an ongoing home renovation and inspiration from a TV show, Schepens started building garden beds to give to families in the neighborhood.
“We watch this show about homesteaders, and they always build these garden beds, so I was just like, ‘I can do that,’” said Schepens. “We’re doing this pool renovation outside, and they’re chopping up the deck, and we’ve got all this wood lying around. When I built the first one, the neighbors came over and looked at it and said, ‘We want one of those!’ So I just started building them and giving them out, and they were super excited about it.”
His idea initially arose prior to the coronavirus-caused cancellations of school and sports, with Schepens thinking he could create his own mini-business throughout the spring and summer.
The profit motive disappeared quickly, though, along with his familiar routines of school and baseball practice.
“I thought I could make some money doing it, but after the virus, I just decided to give them away,” Schepens said. “I gave them to my neighbors and my aunt. They loved them.”
With spring underway and people filling their quarantine hours with safe, social-distancing-friendly activities like gardening at home, the beds are a welcome addition to local homes at the right time of year, all in the midst of an unprecedented societal upheaval.
“It definitely feels good, and I feel a little bit of a sense of pride,” said Schepens. “It’s nice to deliver it, and it’s also nice to just be outside working on it instead of being inside on my computer or doing whatever.”
Schepens is one of the thousands of area student-athletes navigating the reality of missing out on sports and school during the ongoing closures caused by COVID-19. A 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher, Schepens was excited to help the Cavaliers contend for a championship in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference before he heads off to play baseball at SUNY-Maritime next fall.
Like other high-school athletes around the state, he’s holding out hopes—however slim—for a return to play.
“We’re trying our hardest to get in a day where we can have our senior night and a few big games, and if not, we’ll try to do it online,” said Schepens. “Everybody’s just trying to work out and be ready if baseball comes back. Everyone wants to get on the field.”