On March 19th, spring athletes got the news that they never wanted to hear. Dave Decew, New England College’s Director of Athletics, made the announcement that all spring sports would be officially canceled for the remainder of the season due to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus), the new illness affecting everyone. This announcement was made after the NCAA made the executive decision to cancel the 2020 winter sport championships and the remainder of the spring sports season. Now all that is left for athletes is to not let this cancelation affect them mentally and physically and come back stronger than ever for the spring of 2021.
The biggest concern for players at NEC and for others around the world was if this season was going to count at all. Technically, it won’t. All players are receiving an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA. Not only do seniors get the opportunity to return and finish out their “senior” year, all players affected by COVID-19 would also get a year back. This offer sounds like the perfect solution to losing a season, but it isn’t going to be the convenient choice for everyone.
I reached out to spring sport athletes to see how they were handling the whole decision. Mark Pasquariello, a graduate student on the men’s lacrosse team, shared his views on the situation: “Being a graduate student and already attending college for five years, I am not interested in staying for a sixth year just because I have my eligibility back. I have already started applying for jobs and planning out my future.”
With similar concerns being in the minds of most seniors, another factor that is holding these athletes back is money. It is an amazing thing to get eligibility back for players but not all seniors will be able to return. Financially it doesn’t make much sense to return unless the player can 100% pay to come back to school for an additional year.
“The team has had a lot of mixed emotions about the season getting canceled,” says Matt White, junior pitcher on the baseball team, ”we put a lot of time and energy into our pre-season to get an opportunity to play in Cedar Rapids for it all to come to a stop. Without baseball the rest of the spring semester is going to go by slow.”
The NCAA is doing the right thing to protect students but that is a hard pill to swallow. Spring sport athletes wait almost a full school year to finally get a chance to play the sport that they love. It’s a shame that it had to come to this extreme but the steps taken are all for student health.
Maddy Lacharite, a junior on the women’s lacrosse team, shared her views: “I was angry and sad. Our team had put in so much work during fall ball, preseason, and regular season practices. Going forward with the rest of the semester is going to be difficult. I speak for many when I say, being able to play a sport allows for me to be able to manage my time and classwork.”
The more we look at the impacts that COVID-19 has on the sports community, the more people start to realize the true impact sports have on a person. People play sports for the pure enjoyment and love of the game, but that clearly isn’t all. Student athletes play to stay busy, motivate themselves to do better, and work on time management and perseverance.
“Playing softball gives me the motivation to do better in classes and provides me with happiness at the end of a school day. I use my competitiveness on the field as my motivation in class, I want to be the best and I strive for high achieving goals in the classroom,” said Cam LaClaire, a transfer student, who noted she finally found the team she was searching for on the softball team.
As a community NEC is strong and the students adapt to change very well. It is not easy for these athletes to let go of a season, but they are using this as extra motivation for next year. Here is what the players had to say about their upcoming seasons.
“[I am] looking forward to next season, though we will have lost five seniors, I believe that we will come out with the same fire that was ignited this season. While what has happened is not ideal, I know for my team, we have always been extremely close and very supportive of each other and that is something that won’t change due to the unforeseen circumstance that we are currently in,” said Maddy Lacharite of NEC Women’s Lacrosse.
“It gives us enough time to get the kinks out. We have guys that are injured or got sick and didn’t start the year off right. For the returners they are given another opportunity to show what they have. We have a fresh start with the same type of mindset,” said Matt White of NEC Baseball.
“We need to keep in mind that our goal is to bring back a championship and to do it as a family. The players on our team know that we need to continue to practice and stay in shape for the upcoming season. We need to bounce back from these harsh circumstances and use it as fuel to ignite the first for next spring,” said Cam LaClaire of NEC Softball.
COVID-19 will not only be known as the CoronaVirus, or a pandemic, it will also be known as the virus that killed spring sports. From this, student athletes will learn to deal with the situation in their own ways and they will continue to grow.