On March 12, the NCAA canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. With that came the nationwide cancelation of collegiate sports for the remainder of the spring, all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the cancelation of March Madness has attracted the most media buzz throughout America, thousands of athletes across the country are beginning to cope with the struggles of losing a season that had just begun.
In these unprecedented times, the cancelation was appropriate, but not ideal.
“As tough as it is to go through, yes, I feel the cancelation was appropriate,” said track and field athlete Adam Ditri, a senior from Novi, Mich.
Despite the disappointment of a lost season, athletes recognize that sometimes, there are bigger things in life than sports.
“As much as we sometimes think sports are the number one thing in our lives, they are really pale in comparison to the health of the greater good, and that’s what is at stake here,” said Ditri.
Student-athletes put in hard work in the classroom and in training, especially during the offseason. Sometimes, athletes’ biggest gains are made in the offseason when nobody is watching.
“Of course the situation is not ideal, but it gives my teammates and I that much longer of an off season to improve our game,” said men’s lacrosse team member, Jerry Haadsma, a sophomore from Battle Creek, Mich.
Seniors who were looking to finish their collegiate athletic careers successfully may not have the opportunity again. Many will move on to begin a career outside of sports after the semester officially concludes.
“We’re feeling for our seniors who have worked so hard for us and don’t get to enjoy one last season. We’re hurting because we had to say goodbye to our teammates and best friends too early. We’re hurting because it’s a lot to process, but we’re a strong team, and like always, we have each others’ backs,” said women’s lacrosse team member Ashley Iglesias, a junior from Glendale, Calif.
On March 13, the NCAA granted an extra semester and season of eligibility for all Division III spring sport athletes to help those seniors affected by the cancelation.
“It will be interesting to see how many student-athletes will utilize that opportunity,” said Haadsma.
But for all these athletes, the current heartbreak cannot be overlooked.
“The sudden cancelation was heartbreaking news to our team as we were all at a loss of words,” said Haadsma. “We were at a turning point in our season in terms of team chemistry and skill development. We were on the right track to compete for a conference championship.”
The timing was certainly unfortunate, as most teams at Albion were just on the brink of conference competition. Thankfully, there is a bigger picture in the midst of this mayhem.
“I have learned to take nothing for granted,” said Iglesias. “We never know when it’s our last practice, team meeting or game.”
The lessons gained from sports can oftentimes outweigh the wins, the championships and the fame.
“It’ll be a tough adjustment to move on from this sense of belonging,” said Ditri. “On the bright side, being a student-athlete has also taught me that just because something is tough doesn’t mean it cannot be done.”
When it comes to the team, Haadsma agrees.
“The biggest thing I have taken away from this situation is to not lose sight of what’s important to me, which is my team,” said Haadsma.