Senior student athletes adjust to abrupt end of winter and spring seasons

The university and the ODAC canceled athletics for the rest of the year

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The ODAC unanimously voted to cancel all track and field, tennis, baseball, lacrosse, and golf spring seasons for 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Photo by Isaac Thompson, ’21.

Sydney Lee

The cancellation of winter and spring athletics for the 2020 academic year meant the sudden end to college careers for several senior athletes.

The NCAA Swimming Championships set to occur in Greensboro, North Carolina was canceled, meaning that the eight qualifying swimmers (Seniors Emily Hageboeck and Ali MacQueen, juniors Mattie Grant and Patrick Sullivan, sophomores Caroline Baber, Turner Bobbitt and Claudia Barnett, and first-year Sara Gaston) would be unable to compete.

The ODAC unanimously voted to cancel all track and field, tennis, baseball, lacrosse, and golf spring seasons for 2020 as a result of Covid-19 in a statement released on March 20. The ODAC stated that it sought to prioritize “the health and well-being of not only those in ODAC and member school circles, but respective local communities by encouraging social distancing.”

The decision was difficult for many student-athletes on campus. In particular, many seniors were left heartbroken and distraught due to the abrupt end to their athletic careers as Generals.

“The most difficult part was having to say goodbye to my teammates and coaches so abruptly,” said Lily Horsley, ‘20, a member of the women’s tennis team. “We had such a great start to the season with an 8-0 record, and we were gearing up for more nationally-ranked matches. It came to a stop so quickly which was definitely hard to grapple with.”

Another senior player on the women’s tennis team, Anna Kreynin, ‘20, shared similar sentiments to Horsley.

“Something that was such a huge part of my life for 15 years ended so abruptly,” Kreynin said. “We had a very successful season up to that point and everyone was playing really well, so we were all looking forward to our upcoming matches. We were super prepared to do well so it was hard to see it all end.”

The women’s tennis team was scheduled to play Mary Washington the weekend their season was officially cancelled, a match that many of the women were looking forward to.

“The school and coaches handled it the best they could,” said Jimmie Mack Johnson III, ’20, a member of the men’s track and field team. “They were transparent and honest throughout the whole situation. COVID-19 has brought unprecedented decisions to established institutions, so in light of that I think the situation was handled well and the right decision was made. It is sad for the athletes, especially those in sports such as lacrosse and baseball who were just getting started. Athletes devote lots of time and energy into their craft on and off the field, so to not get that opportunity to showcase that work and dedication is devastating.”

Multiple winter and spring athletes wanted other students to know how important their final seasons would have been to them considering the amount of time and effort they have put in over the years.

“Although W&L is a DIII school, we’re still competing for conference and national championships,” Horsley said. “Senior season is supposed to be the peak of your career, so it was devastating for it to end like this without much closure.”

Horsley said she hopes that her doubles partner, Taylor Garcia, ‘22, is recognized this season for pushing her to be a better player and teammate. She said she believes that “Taylor will carry that momentum to the next season,” when the women’s tennis team will “bounce back stronger.”

Kreynin said she is proud of her doubles games over the past years, especially her win over Pomona during her sophomore year. She wants her teammates to know that she is “so proud of everyone” and knows “that they will pick up from where we left off next year and have the season they deserve.”

The women’s tennis team has won the ODAC championships for the past 17 years.

“[I hope I] showed people that demanding greatness in everything one does and winning championships should be the norm, not the exception,” Johnson said. “W&L athletics means a lot to me and I will always be thankful for the multitude of things it allowed me to experience and learn.”

Returning student-athletes will continue to train at home and over the summer for their next season back on campus.