Joshua Culliver rehabbing arm after shortened season

The junior pitcher tore his UCL, ending his season before the cancellation of spring sports.

Courtesy of Kelly Hagenson/University of Minnesota Athletics.

Courtesy of Kelly Hagenson/University of Minnesota Athletics.

Brendan O'Brien

The Gopher baseball season ended abruptly about a month ago, but the season was over earlier for junior pitcher Joshua Culliver.

In February, head coach John Anderson announced Culliver’s season ended after only two appearances in 2020. Culliver tore his UCL in his right elbow and needed Tommy John surgery to repair it.

“It hurt a lot hearing that I was going to have to get surgery,” Culliver said. “I knew all the work I had put in with my teammates and all the things we were looking forward to months into the season. Having my season cut shortly definitely hurt me and some of my teammates and coaches.”

Many elective surgeries have been delayed and appointments adjusted because of the outbreak of COVID-19. Culliver said the process has been smooth thus far for him, and he had the procedure completed. The next step for him now is weekly virtual appointments with a doctor and athletic trainer to discuss exercises he can do and monitor his range of motion.

Culliver knew he was done pitching this season well before the coronavirus pandemic canceled all NCAA spring sports. But knowing this did not make it any easier for him when the team received the news they would not be taking the field again in 2020.

“Seeing how our season got cut short a lot earlier than they expected, having it end in March like that, that hurt me because it gave me something to do: still cheer on my teammates, help coach them on the side,” he said. “Seeing how their season got taken away, it definitely affected me as well.”

While surgery and the pandemic have been difficult for him, Culliver is taking on a positive approach. He is looking forward to putting in the work needed not only for rehab but also to get stronger than he was before.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the season ending quickly is being away from coaches and teammates, Culliver said. If this has opened his eyes to one thing, however, it is that the team culture is tight-knit and has helped during this time.

“It’s really a family here so everyone really checks in on each other pretty much weekly, sometimes daily,” Culliver said. “The coaches call in to check in on us, making sure everyone is okay [and] healthy. It’s weird but it’s something I’ve noticed how much of a family atmosphere that we really have and how much that transitioned.”