Spring Sports Athletes Reflect on the Cancellation of the 2020 Spring Season

by, Madalyn Johnson, Web Editor

Only a few weeks have passed since the MAAC’s announcement on March 13 that all spring sports would be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the news left many athletes disappointed and shocked about the abrupt ending to their spring season. And while many would agree it was the right decision, that does not make it any easier to come to grips with. There is so much preparation that goes into each season and so much bonding time between teammates. Every team each year is unique in terms of its players and skill sets. Sadly, the opportunity to compete with this year’s specific collection of players has now likely passed for most teams. But as life has moved forward since the decision, athletes seem to have become more accepting of this sad reality, figuring out ways to keep motivated in anticipation of next spring. 

Grace Steinthal, a junior on the women’s lacrosse team, is from White Plains, New York. Being from New York herself, Steinthal knows just how bad the coronavirus outbreak is in her home state. She believes Manhattan College is taking the right precautions given the state’s current struggles. 

“I’m just watching the news and all the things our president is saying about social distancing and everything,” Steinthal said. “I think they definitely made a right call at the right time due to the circumstances they were facing.” 

Steinthal recalled her initial emotions upon finding out about the news. Naturally, she felt shocked at first, but all along she knew it was a possibility given the growing trend of cancellations in sports. This season was meant to be her third year of eligibility, but that experience will now have to wait until next season.

“I would really just say I was just shocked, I think in the moment,” Steinthal said. “You kind of knew what was coming because we definitely saw a lot of prior cancellations so we kind of knew in the back of our heads it was coming.”

As sadness and disappointment were settling in, Steinthal thought about the seniors and how the decision would affect them. This year’s women’s lacrosse team features nine seniors, most of whom will probably not have the time to use up their final year of eligibility next season. A lot of the pain from this situation has to do with the reality that these seniors will never be able to take the field together one last time.  

“I mean you obviously didn’t want to hear it, but we were shocked and devastated,” Steinthal. “Obviously, it was very hard especially because our team is built on our seniors and we really pride ourselves on like our senior class and what they do so it was really tough to hear it.”

Given the odd and upsetting circumstances caused by COVID-19, Steinthal was reminded not to take for granted her senior season. Next season, Steinthal and her teammates plan to play in honor of this year’s group of seniors.

“It’s really sad and we feel for them hard but they set examples for our freshmen and sophomores and even our junior class,” Steinthal said. “Going into next season, we have something to prove for them. Especially, we’ll be playing for them every game and just knowing that like any game can be our last.”

Sophomore Emily Hughes of the women’s rowing team explained that she and her teammates were upset when hearing their season was canceled, but accepted the fact the decision had to be made. 

“Everyone was definitely very upset and very emotional,” Hughes said. “I think everyone was understanding as to why, you know, the cancellation was happening, and I think it was definitely very hard but being together helped and our coach was very kind, considerate and empathetic to the situation which we were going through,” Hughes said.

Hughes admitted how tough it was to lose this year’s seniors so suddenly. She knows better than most how hard they worked day in and day out and how dedicated they were to the women’s rowing program. 

“I am in a different boat to them just because I’m a sophomore,” Hughes said. “I had the full freshman experience of getting my whole season and fortunately, I have two more years in which I can compete.”

She continued.

“But I feel disappointed and I feel sorry for my seniors because our seniors are so wonderful and I’ve just seen how much hard work that they’ve put in through practice. It’s not easy to be positive at 4:30 a.m. and it’s not easy to always put in 100 percent at 5 a.m. practices, but you know, I really saw that our seniors were positive and they were leaders on and off the water.”

Like most athletes returning to competition next year, Hughes will look to turn this disappointment into motivation. 

 “I think it’s going to motivate us even more for next year,” Hughes said. “I’m even more excited to start the fall season to show how much my team has grown and, you know, how much everyone’s put in hard work and how we’re going to persevere through the situation. I think we have especially just something to show for the seniors who won’t be able to come back and just work hard for them.”

On Monday, the NCAA announced that athletes on spring sports teams will retain a year of eligibility as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Quadrangle plans to follow up on the specifics of that announcement to see how it may impact the future plans of spring sports teams.