Along with the rest of his Evergreen Viking teammates, Mason Loeffler has been facing adversity ever since the 2019-2020 season began.
Picked by many to win no more than 12-13 games, and as low as fourth in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, Loeffler and the Vikings sat on that word called “adversity” and crushed it.
Coach Jerry Keifer’s Vikings, led by the senior duo of Loeffler and Nate Brighton, went through the league undefeated, won 24 straight after an opening-week loss, and reached the Elite 8 in Division III before their tournament run was halted by the Ohio “stay at home” order because of COVID-19.
Now Loeffler is facing a different obstacle.
Very early in the basketball signing process, Loeffler committed to Urbana University where he was to receive a scholarship to play basketball and attend the NCAA Division II school as a student-athlete.
As of a week ago, Loeffler now faces a new challenge. Reportedly due to rapidly declining enrollment in the last few years, Urbana was forced to shut down completely, leaving the Viking senior looking for a new school.
Loeffler said the difficulties that he and his teammates faced during the season, have helped him with the setback at Urbana.
“Back at the beginning of the season a lot of people thought we wouldn’t be any good because of what we lost or what we didn’t have. Our second game we didn’t play well at all against Swanton and again people said we wouldn’t be any good,” he said.
“We overcame all what people were saying and won 25 games. Look at both games in the district when we were down nine points late (against Cardinal Stritch and Archbold) and came back and won. We faced a lot of adversity all year and ended up in the regional finals.
“All of that has helped in this setback, the way we helped each other and the way we were so together has really been helpful keeping me on track.”
Urbana’s enrollment in 2017 was listed at 1,623 according to Ohio college and university population figures.
Last year that figure fell to 587, a decrease of 64 percent in just two years.
“I really didn’t know anything about the low enrollments or the financial problems before. I had no idea,” explained Loeffler. “After this happened I did a little research myself after I got the news and I figured it out.”
This leaves another school that will be more than happy to take the 6’4” skywalking guard who scored over 1,500 points in his Evergreen career, and besides being named All-NWOAL and All-District, he was a 3rd team All-Ohio selection.
“I’ve talked to six schools in the last couple of days since I found out,” said Loeffler. “My teammates I’ve talked to since I found out Urbana (was getting shut down), and said ‘don’t worry, you’ll be fine going somewhere (else)’. So they have been very supportive too.”
Loeffler did say that one possibility is playing with Brighton at Concordia, an NAIA school in Michigan.
Another possibility is playing for ex-Evergreen star Brooks Miller at Trine in Angola, Indiana.
“It’ll probably be a process for the next couple weeks, weighing things out. I’m sure I’ll ask some questions too because of what happened,” Loeffler said, which he also said would be a good piece of advice for anyone being recruited.
“Because of everything all of us went through this season though, I’m pretty sure I’ll find someplace that I like and that I can call home.”
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org