Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Senior spring athletes cope with the cancellation of their final season

Senior night is a night dedicated to showcasing the accomplishments of senior athletes each year in college sports. This is an unbreakable tradition, until this year. 
When Division I schools started sending students home and canceling athletic events and seasons, smaller colleges, such as Augustana, also had to decide the fate of their spring academics and athletics.
Augustana announced on March 18 that classes would move to distance learning. The cancellation of all spring sports later followed.
While the safety and health of players is most important, spring student athletes are still heartbroken they don’t get to finish out their final seasons in their respected sports. For the majority of Augustana athletes, this would have been their last chance to play the sport they love.

Senior Juliette Camara runs to score in a 2019 lacrosse game. The team was able to play five games of their 2020 season before it was canceled. Photo courtesy of Juliette Camara.

When the news broke, senior lacrosse player Juliette Camara was fortunately with her teammates heading to an away game. Camara appreciated having the support of her team as she played out her final two games. 
“I was with everybody, which was nice, because we got to just learn about it together. I think it was much better than being by myself and learning it in some random way,” Camara said. “A lot of tears were shed on the bus.”
Since the team entered into their final game knowing it would be their last of the season, the underclassmen presented the seniors with gifts on the field as a mini “Senior Night” since the real one was now canceled. 
Senior Sam Beyer waits on base during a 2019 baseball game. The baseball team was unable to have any home games this 2020 season. Photo courtesy of Sam Beyer.

Other teams, like the baseball team, were also able to get together and honor their achievements as a team before heading home to their families. Senior baseball player Sam Beyer said this made the reality less difficult to grasp.
We have a very close-knit group of guys on the team and that made it a lot easier to deal with considering we all sort of had the same shared grievance,” Beyer said. “Just being with the team after we found out about the season being canceled made it easier because we were able to reminisce and look back at all that we accomplished.”
Senior Brooke Harmon warms up for javelin throw at a 2019 track and field meet. The team was unable to have a 2020 outdoor season. Photo courtesy of Brooke Harmon.

The track team was able to have one last get-together. However, senior track athlete Brooke Harmon wasn’t able to celebrate with her team since she headed home quickly after the closing of campus. Because of that, it was difficult for her to accept the circumstances right away. 
“It really didn’t hit me at first. It took a little bit to sink in and when it did, it was kind of heartbreaking,” Harmon said. “I was trying to round out my career and I couldn’t.”
Harmon has been an athlete since she was six, so now, not playing sports has been quite the change. She took a break from training at first, but then her “inner athlete” came out, as Harmon called it, and she returned to doing different types of workout routines. She tries to take daily walks with her dad or complete online workout videos, for example.
Camara is also finding new ways to keep up her athletic training. Doing lacrosse exercises by herself isn’t as enjoyable as it was with the whole team, though. Like Harmon, she finds other workout routines to complete.
The athletes agreed that time helps heal part of the heartbreak; they aren’t as devastated now as they were initially. 
It has definitely gotten easier to accept considering the magnitude of this pandemic and what we have learned since everything was initially canceled,” Beyer said. “We all know that it was the right decision, which makes it easier to swallow.” 
However, there are still some realizations that hit hard.
“I will say I often check our schedule to see who we would have been playing on a certain day if the season hadn’t been canceled,” Beyer said.
Camara still has difficulty accepting that she won’t experience the traditional “lasts” that seniors normally have.
“Sometimes I’ll be watching TV or just talking to somebody and they’ll bring up something specific and I’ll be thinking about ‘Wow, I won’t have my last lift, we won’t do our last conditioning’ and things like that. So it’s hard in that sense,” Camara said.
To honor the seniors whose seasons were cut short, the Augustana Athletic Department Facebook page posted “Senior Spotlights,” which included images of the athletes and a link to a senior profile.
The sentiment meant a lot to the seniors. Beyer liked the opportunity to express his feelings about his college athletic career in his own words. 
It gave us a chance to share what baseball at Augustana meant to us and give us a spotlight that we didn’t get with our lost season,” Beyer said. “I also enjoyed sharing the reflection with my family members and friends outside of Augustana so that they too could see how much baseball at Augustana meant to me.”
Camara especially appreciated the post because it felt like a “Senior Night” recognition that she missed out on:
“At some point, I think that memories of the games are going to fade away. I’m not going to remember what we played and what happened. But when you get some of those gifts from your teammates [at Senior Night], those I can keep forever and always remember. I think that seeing the Athletic Department did [the Senior Spotlights], it’s something that I can keep forever.”
To the seniors who weren’t able to finish out their collegiate athletic careers, we at the Observer want you to know that your time and effort was appreciated by the school, athletic department and fans. Even a pandemic can’t take the memories away from you.

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    Brett WilliamsApr 28, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    Great article! Great job!

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Senior spring athletes cope with the cancellation of their final season