For me, one of the most awesome sportswriters in the Missoula market is Joel Carlson, University of Montana Women's Sports Information.

Joel shared an update on University of Montana Lady Griz fan favorite Sophia Stiles of Malta, Montana. She discussed family life, her faith, pending shoulder surgery, online studying and, oh yeah, basketball even gets a mention in here. Thanks, Joel.

Where you at, how you doing?

SS: I'm in the great city of Malta, and I'm doing pretty well.

What do your days look like now?

SS: Usually it's staying up until about 3 just talking with my family, then waking up around 11, eating some breakfast, then painting the house with my mom. We're all pretty night-owly. We all stay up pretty late.

What is the mood like in Malta?

SS: It depends on who you talk to. Some people are like, We're in Malta, it's never going to affect us. And then there are other people who are pretty scared. When you go to the store, there is nobody around.

I think I'm probably more scared than other people. Not necessarily scared of getting it, but I definitely don't want to be a carrier. I don't think I could handle being isolated and not being able to see other people.

Are you following the news more than you normally would?

SS: I check Twitter and go to the COVID-19 site to see what's happening around the world. I've listened to a couple of podcasts about it, so I'm probably following things more than normal.

What's been the impact on your immediate family?

SS: My dad works in the gas fields, checking wells. He's still working. He just doesn't go into the office now. And my mom is always at home, so it hasn't been a huge impact on us, though my little sister Chevelle is at home because of school closing.

I was supposed to get shoulder surgery (on Monday), but this kind of messed that up for me. I was going to go back to Florida (to Dr. James Andrews, who did my knee). He called last week and said they were canceling surgeries.

He said I'd be put on the priority list when they start up, so now I'm kind of sitting around. It's taking away recovery time. I was already going to be cutting it kind of close. It's a six- to seven-month recovery, so if I don't get it soon, it's not looking good.

Your season reached an endpoint at the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise just before things started getting canceled. Your housemate in Missoula, Tristin Achenbach, had a promising softball season come to an end. What have your conversations with her been like?

SS: At least we controlled our own destiny. It's not something that was taken away from us. That would be worse.

At first she wasn't so sure what was happening, because they only suspended the season, they didn't cancel it. She was still holding on to the idea that maybe they would get the games in.

(Note: The Big Sky Conference Presidents Council voted last week to cancel all spring sports.)

She was pretty sad. She said it doesn't feel real. I feel so bad because the team was doing so well. They had a good shot this year. For track and softball, they put in so much time in the offseason. To have that taken away, I feel bad for all of them.

You wear your Christian faith pretty proudly. Does this leave you wondering where God is in all this?

SS: I was reading something online where all of this was predicted in the Scriptures, from the fires in Australia to the plague of locusts in Africa to this pandemic.

(Note: "Whenever I hold back the rain or send locusts to eat up the crops or send an epidemic on my people, if they pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins, and make their land prosperous again." 2 Chronicles, 7:13-14

It just feels like God is saying, What are you guys doing? Stop focusing on what is worldly and quit sinning. Get your head right and I'll fix everything. That feels like what is happening.

It just feels like God is saying, What are you guys doing? Stop focusing on what is worldly and quit sinning. Get your head right and I'll fix everything. That feels like what is happening.

What are you optimistic and pessimistic about when it comes to what is happening?

SS: Best case? It would be awesome if in a week it was gone, but I don't think that's likely. Realistically, the best-case scenario in my mind is 2-3 months, if they could kind of figure out what is going on and get a vaccine. But even that may be a stretch.

Worst-case scenario is that this lasts a year and it impacts fall and winter sports

You've had 14-plus years of classroom instruction. Are you ready for the new normal of online classes?

SS: I've been getting into online classes since last year. This year I've already taken three online classes and only had to go to class Tuesdays and Thursdays, so now I just have to add my other ones that were in-person. Adding a few more will be fine. I really enjoy online classes.

What are you able to do these days as a basketball player?

SS: The gyms in Malta are closed. I think if I talk to the superintendent, I might be able to get a key out of him. I think I'll do that pretty soon unless I go back to Missoula. But I don't know when I'm going to go back there either.


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