Sewing through a pandemic

Athletic department promotes mask wearing through series of Instagram posts

Daniel Newman, Sports Editor

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic people have taken to wearing various types of masks from homemade to traditional store bought. (Marissa Lordahl)

Shelby Stueve had been wanting to learn how to sew for years, but things never lined up perfectly in order for her to be able to do so. Stueve works in the athletic office, as the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Student Success. 

With the office closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stueve made the decision to go back to her home state of California to work.

An added benefit of Stueve returning home was the ability to see her aunt, who already knew how to sew and was willing to help Stueve. She decided to use her newfound skills to help others in a small way. With COVID-19 in mind, Stueve began making fun, reusable masks to give to her family and friends. This way, if the people she interacted with could not see her smile, they at least had something fun to look at.  

“The best part was learning something new and working with my hands to create something,” Stueve said in an email. “I enjoy learning and creating and this is a way for me to do both of these things.”

Stueve was the first person featured in the Mask Monday photo series on Seattle Pacific University’s athletic department’s Instagram. Each week, a different person in the department is featured wearing a mask and offering a reason as to why they do so. Head men’s basketball coach Grant Leep and Fan Engagement Manager Stefanie Kosco are among those who have been featured so far.

Kosco was one of the people to come up with the idea for the series, teaming up with graphic design intern and graduate student Julie Renne.

“The goal with these posts is to get the word out that we support mask wearing and social distancing in order to help keep the spread of COVID down,” Kosko said in an email.

For Renne, the posts serve two purposes.

“I was kind of looking for a little bit of a bright spot that we could be showing to people, as well as I thought this was a really good way as new students are coming in to get to know the athletic department, especially new recruits that are coming in.” Renne said in a zoom call.

Even students who have attended SPU for multiple years may not know who Kosko, Stueve and Athletic Director Jackson Stava are. By showcasing one of them each week, Renne hopes to introduce the followers on the page to the department she has been working with for two years.

“I love everyone working in the department. They all work incredibly hard and they have a really incredible view on things, which I really appreciate,” Renne said. “I love getting to see the inner workings of how everything is done.”

Working in the athletic department has humanized the idea of a corporation for Renne, and she wants to show that human side of the athletic department to others.

Shelby Stueve has made around a dozen masks for her friends and family since mid-July, and hopes to make a dozen more. Stefanie Kosko, Grant Leep and Jackson Stava are all wearing masks to keep themselves and others safe, and by doing so, they hope to see Falcon sports again soon.

They are all part of a department, but they are also all people, taking a small action to hopefully gain back something that they love.

“With everything going on right now, everyone is going through something. It can be really tough to stay positive and remember why we wear masks in the first place. Even something small like this can help people make light of a hard situation,” Renne said through an email.

Follow @spusports for more mask monday posts, as well as updates on Falcon Athletics and spotlights of Falcon Athletes.