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Jason Lee will be making the move to Yale on Aug. 25. His classes will be mostly online, but he’ll be using that time to adjust to the East Coast and train with the football team. (Courtesy photo/Jason Lee)

Mount Baker grad is forced to adjust to not having a 2020 normal season  

WHATCOM ­— When the coronavirus hit last March, 2020 Mount Baker High School graduate Jason Lee didn’t have the highest hopes anymore of actually playing football in college.

His plan was to walk-on to the football team at whichever college he was attending, after the pandemic had put a halt to any tryouts that would have happened in the spring or summer. 

With no opportunity to prove himself in person and having already been admitted to Yale University on an academic scholarship, Lee sent emails of his highlight film to see if the Bulldogs football team had a spot for him.

“I was emailing back and forth with the recruiting coach that focuses on Washington recruits for a couple of weeks and I heard back in late May,” Lee said.

From there, Lee got a call from a number he didn’t recognize which ended up being Yale’s running backs coach Derrick Lett saying he wanted Lee on the roster for the upcoming season.

“It was definitely a shock to me,” Lee said. “I was in awe when I picked up the phone.”

The Ivy League was the first Division I conference to postpone fall sports, announcing on July 8 that its schools would not be competing due to the pandemic.

Despite the news of not having a season in the fall, Lee said he and other Yale teammates are looking at it as a positive, as though the season has been suspended to 2021.

Because the Ivy League does not grant redshirt years, freshmen get right into the game whereas most freshmen at Power Five conferences spend their first year watching and adjusting to the college game.

“We’re trying to look at it as a redshirt year where we get to focus on getting bigger and stronger and where we need to be physically,” Lee said. “We don’t lose a year of eligibility and we get all of this extra time to practice and get stronger. There’s definitely a plus to it.”

Lee said he’s excited about the fact he gets to continue his athletic career at a school as prestigious as Yale.

He is looking forward to “the mass amount of resources that Yale offers I feel like I didn’t have much access to in high school, the difference in rigor of classes and the challenge it’ll give me.”

Other than a family vacation once to New York, Lee hasn’t spent much time on the American East Coast. A trip to visit Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut, was canceled because of COVID-19, so at the end of this month Lee will be taking in the campus for the first time when he moves in. 

After settling in, Lee said he’ll spend his time getting familiar with the campus and training with the football team. The university’s plan for the academic year is to have freshmen on campus only for the fall semester with classes mostly online.

In the spring, freshmen will be sent home to take classes online, but Lee said he might stay on the East Coast.

“My plan is to either take the semester off and come home and train virtually or stay and rent out a place with a couple of my teammates and train together to keep that bond going,” he said.