College sports were stopped abruptly last week halfway into the season because of a pending pandemic of corona, a name normally associated with a Mexican beer, but in this case with a virus.
The NCAA basketball tournaments, wrestling championship and indoor track championships were all canceled.
Athletes have been ripped from teams for a variety of reasons, from injuries to academics to disciplinary violations of team rules, but never have teams been ripped away from every college athlete in America.
All athletes will tell you that being a full-time student-athlete is demanding, but that their identity is wrapped up and defined by being a member of a team. It is just who they are and who they have always been since early childhood.
The NCAA will graciously give the year back when spring sports start up in 2021. But give back and get back are not the same thing. Chemistry and comrades change, but the season is lost. There is no way to sugarcoat it.
Cape’s Jordyn Virden, a redshirt sophomore playing first base for the Wilmington University softball team, summed up her feelings: “We just got back from our Florida trip, playing the most difficult teams in the country, and were getting back after it at practice. Suddenly everything was being canceled; we weren’t allowed on campus or at any of the athletic fields. My whole entire team was heartbroken. I mean, as soon as we found out, we burst into tears. We have five seniors, one of whom was an All-American, and the rest were all-conference/region players. We’re losing a big chunk because they most likely will not come back due to preset plans and obligations. No one knows what to do with their lives. What do normal people do on a day-to-day basis? The lack of structure that we now face is becoming a huge struggle. I miss my second family.”
Riley Shields, a senior softball pitcher at Alvernia College, is coming off shoulder surgery and a winter of rehabbing and strength training. Riley was good to go, never anticipating good to go home.
Cape baseball has 10 graduates playing college baseball: Zack Gelof, sophomore, University of Virginia; Austin Elliott, redshirt freshman, University of North Carolina; Mason Fluharty, freshman, Liberty University; David Erickson, sophomore, Liberty; Zach Savage, sophomore, Lafayette; Reese White, sophomore, Hampden-Sydney; Ryan Gibbons, freshman, McDaniel; Parker Brown, freshman, Roanoke; Sam Johnson, sophomore, Washington College; and Zach Dale, sophomore, Delaware State.
A college baseball player can enter the Major League Baseball draft after his junior year. Each player is affected differently by the canceling of the season.
There are 16 local girls playing or coaching college women’s lacrosse: Lizzie Frederick, senior, Temple; Madi Bada, junior, East Carolina; Chloe Schaeffer, freshman, Mercer University; Cailey Thornburg, junior, Mercer; Izzy Cryne, junior, Mercer; Meg Bartley, assistant coach, Virginia Tech; Eddy Shoop, junior, Florida; Korinne Lemaire, junior, Lynchburg; Karissa Worely, freshman, LaSalle; Jillian Seker, freshman, Lenoir-Rhyne; Cammie Baldwin, freshman, Frostburg; Jamie Trabaudo, redshirt junior, UNC; Lindsay Monigle, sophomore, West Chester; Caroline Donovan, freshman, William and Mary; Leigh Lingo, junior Virginia Tech; and Regan Lingo, junior, Furman.
Trabaudo, a senior academically but redshirt junior athletically, has endured two ACL injuries and finally this year was seeing the field for maybe the top Division I team in the country.
“Jamie told me she is 1,000 percent going back and so are the rest of the seniors,” said Cape coach Lindsey Underwood, who coached Jamie at Polytech.
“As athletes, we train in competitive environments for days, months and years,” she said. “We challenge our bodies and our minds to achieve impossible goals – we grow and improve through triumph and through failure. Yet, as athletes, we also know sacrifice. We sacrifice a regular, common existence in order to push ourselves to the ultimate limits. We sacrifice every day so that when the opportunity comes to compete, we are prepared. This spring, I lost the opportunity to compete. For my teammates and coaches, we truly grieved this loss. Yet, our fate is ironic and bittersweet. We sacrifice for the chance to compete. And now, we’ve been asked to sacrifice our chance, but for the greater well-being of our community. We felt the pain, the loss. But, in my opinion, there are no people better prepared than athletes to make this sacrifice, and emerge stronger, tougher and more resilient next spring.”
Meg Bartley, an assistant lacrosse coach at Virginia Tech, where she played as an undergraduate, offered this insight: “The most challenging leadership moment ever, navigating an evolving unknown and trying to make all the TBDs and I don’t knows feel OK. From a playing standpoint, the early transition is just as hard on the coaches, the sad feeling of the season potentials not being played out, the hope it will work out so everyone comes back, the disappointment for the seniors enjoying their last season, all while trying to be patient and kind to yourself for trying to figure it all out too ‘cause you haven’t found a book on Amazon yet that talks about best practices when your season gets canceled, to say the least an overwhelming spectrum of emotions hourly, but the hope is this will help the trajectory of all of this. This was the most humbling reminder to enjoy every opportunity with your team.”
Boys’ lacrosse college players from Cape include Luke D’Ambrogi, freshman, Catholic University; Brooks Buck, sophomore, Ursinus; Brody McMahon, freshman, St. Vincent College; Aarin Burton, freshman, Bethany College; Jake Brown, sophomore, Chatham College; Holden Kammerer, junior, Franklin and Marshall; and Eric-Stephane Stancofski, Swarthmore.
Basketball players affected by the corona cancellation are Jon Warren, senior, Talladega College; Ian Robertson, sophomore, Randolph Macon; and Randy Rickards, sophomore, Miami Dade. Warren’s Talladega team was heading to the Big Dance in the NAIA tournament, while Robertson and the Randolph Macon Yellowjackets had reached the Sweet 16 of the Division III tournament and were considered a threat to reach the finals.
Lizzie Frederick, a senior captain and assistant undergraduate coach on the injured list, said, “For seniors, it’s a feeling of not being able to completely finish an experience that has consumed the last four years of your life.”