On March 12, 2020, the National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA made the decision to cancel all winter and spring championship tournaments which then led to all the sporting conferences following suit and canceling all competitions for the foreseeable future. Sports directly affected at East Stroudsburg University were; Men’s and Women’s Wrestling, Track and Field, Golf, Lacrosse, Softball, Tennis and Baseball. I spoke to some of the athletes from these sports to get a better understanding as to how the NCAAs decision impacted them.
Colin Crosby is a Senior Track and Field athlete who competes in the Mid-Distance events. Crosby began running track in high school to help break through mental barriers socially and physically. ESU became his college of choice after his high school coach, and ESU alumni, Damen Boham, influenced him to check out the school. Since then, his experience at ESU, as Crosby put it, “could probably write a full-length novel […] it’s been a rollercoaster”.
Marissa Govan is a Junior on the Softball team and has been playing since she was 5 or 6 years old. For Govan, the feeling of home and tight-knit community at ESU was the reason she committed to play for the Warriors. After suffering injuries both her Freshman and Sophomore seasons, this year was set to be a big one for both herself and her team.
Rachel Neff, a Junior apart of the Golf team, originally came to ESU to play Lacrosse however stopped during her first semester of Freshmen year. After two years out of collegiate sports, Neff began taking an interest in golf last summer and joined the team this year, with this semester meant to be her first season competing; something she was very excited for.
Tatyana Petteway began playing Lacrosse her Freshmen year of high school and now, as a Senior, says being a part of lacrosse was “by far one of the best decisions. Not necessarily because I enjoy playing and the thrill it gives me but [because] the life lessons it has given me and the people I have met through playing.”
This season Petteway was looking forward to hopefully repeating the success ESU Lacrosse has achieved over the past years. “As a team, we decided to not have goals but rather a standard. With these standards we believe any potential goals are possible” she said.
While each of these athletes have a different background and experience through their sport, the cancellation of their seasons all had the same effect; it was heartbreaking. After all their hard work and dedication during their off-seasons, this was the time they dreamt of and focused on. Every rep, every sacrifice, every moment of pain was to see their goals come to life, and in a moment, they lost everything they worked for.
I asked each of these athletes about their reactions when they heard about the cancellation of their seasons and they all replicated the feelings of sadness. It was evident that they all understood and respected the decision, yet, no matter what it was still going to hurt. “This is something bigger than us or any sport we could play,” Govan said.
For the two Seniors, the cancellation meant they left “unfinished.” Petteway described herself as being “stuck between being sad about the opportunities that were lost and how these people around me will no longer be [her] teammates.”
Crosby described how training for track is such a long process with athletes spending 10-11 months focused on the Outdoor season and when the news came, “the lingering feeling that I didn’t know my last race ever would be my last race” was what hurt the most.
With the pain, anger and sadness that erupted within athletes across all sports, teams came together to grieve and honor their seasons that would’ve been. Govan spoke about the softball team’s last meeting being rather morbid as they were all crying together. The Lacrosse team decided to do a team dinner and enjoy their last moments together because they knew everyone was going to begin to head home in the following days.
For the Golf team, they were in North Carolina at the time, so they went out and had one final round as a team, which Neff described as “an awesome day of just being together.” Crosby highlighted that despite the sadness, his team “has been positive and focused, supporting each other and keeping in touch more than ever.”
Now a few weeks since the cancellations, teams are shifting their focus to the future. While the current emphasis is academics and navigating the new online world, thoughts of next year have already begun.
“The biggest takeaway I’ve had from all this is that nothing is guaranteed. The next time I step on the line, I’m going to treat it like it’s the last because it very well may be,” Crosby said.
For all these athletes, their sports have given them so much more than just a game, it’s influenced every aspect of their lives. Govan put it simply as “I owe it all to this sport”.
NCAA stated that they are granting an extra year of eligibility to all Spring sports. This seems like a small glimmer in the tough times.
“It’s more than a sport and it’s hard to let go of,” Govan said.
However, for all of them, there is ultimately more to consider before they make their decision. “Sometimes you got to know when to call it quits and move onto the next” Crosby said.
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