Playing Careers Cut Short for Student Athletes

By Anne Evans

Imagine spending your whole life playing a sport, countless hours of your life devoted to one sport, from the time you were a child until college. You just finished a game or a practice, and you didn’t know it would be your last.

The week after Spring Break, William Peace University released a statement announcing the cancellation of athletics for the remainder of the semester due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although it was a precaution meant to keep student athletes safe from the spread of COVID-19, student-athletes felt nothing but heartbreak as they watched their seasons get taken from them. And for the majority of senior athletes, they watched their playing careers end too soon.

“It was just so surreal,” said Rylie Toomey, a senior and captain of the Women’s Lacrosse team. “It was heartbreaking realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to play with my team again.”

Many teams weren’t allowed a last practice or team gathering after the announcement. Some seniors spent their entire lives playing the sports they loved, and the experiences and lessons they gained playing this sport ended too quickly.

“Being that this was my last year in college, my last season, I was truly hurt to hear our season had to end early,” said Nuri Abdus-Salaam, a WPU senior and member of the track and field team. “Though I will still have eligibility in grad school, it would have been great being able to finish this season in undergrad.” 

Heartbreak rang true within senior athletes all across the nation. For thousands of athletes in the NCAA, goals weren’t able to be met, records weren’t able to be broken, and championships weren’t able to be won.

“Having to tell my athletes the season had to end early was one of the hardest things I had to do. We put in so much work to get where we are and now we can’t compete,” said WPU Track and Field Head Coach BT Pham. “I tried to at least convince the district to let us compete in the meet that was coming up in Mount Olive, but it didn’t happen.”

Championships were cancelled. More than six spring sports team seasons were cancelled: baseball, track and field, softball swimming, lacrosse, and basketball. Though seasons were cancelled early, some were able to have their championships and nationals.

“When I was told the season had to end early due to coronavirus, I was devastated. We didn’t even have our first track meet yet, matter fact, we were three days away from our first meet,” said Shaniya Taylor, a junior on the track and field team.

The Division III indoor track and field still had their championships run but outside visitors could not attend; they had to watch it live on television. For those who competed in a spring sport, the Division III Administrative Committee is allowing extra eligibility for student athletes.

Alyssa Crowder, a sophomore at WPU, maintains a glimpse of hope as she believes it may be for the best.

“Though we had to end this season early, we are definitely taking over our upcoming season. I believe everything happens for a reason and maybe this was a good thing that happened,” said Crowder. “Maybe someone was bound to get hurt during this season or kicked off the team, not happening now.”

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