Senior student athletes: bittersweet goodbyes rapidly approaching


Santiago Cuevas

Senior Ethan Gray competes in the men’s 3000m steeplechase at Wheaton College on April 14, 2023. Gray is a captain for the men’s track and field team as well as one of the many senior athletes graduating this term.

As the end of the school year rapidly approaches, it is time to start saying goodbye to Augustana’s senior student athletes. They have put in hard work and dedication to their sport at Augustana. These students have been able to learn how to balance practices, games and time commitment into their sport, as well as schoolwork and making sure that they stay on top of their academics. 

At Augustana, a student athlete has to be in good academic standing in order to continue to play their sport of choosing. As student athletes, on top of learning to balance academics and athletics, they also have to balance having a social life.

“It is definitely a challenge,” senior basketball player Daniel Carr said. “The academics here are definitely rigorous and tough regardless of what major you do on top of having at least 20 hours of athletic work to do in the same week as well. The biggest thing I have learned is just being able to manage your time and balance different things. It is definitely tough, but it’s rewarding.” 

When seniors were asked about their favorite memory of being a student athlete at Augustana, an occurring theme of quality time with their teammates kept popping up. From choosing how to spend Augie Choice money by going to the Dominican Republic to just simply spending  time hanging out with their respective teammates, these seniors value their teammates and hold them to high standards. Augustana’s sports teams seem to create tight knit groups of people who are all passionate about the same thing. 

“I was scared to go,” senior volleyball player Joshua Van Essen said about traveling to the Dominican Republic. “I have not hung out with my team for eight days straight before, and I was scared that I was going to get sick of them. It ended up being the best time, I was so happy.”

Senior cross country and track runner Ethan Gray also shared a similar experience as the cross country team took their annual trip to northern Minnesota before the start of the school year. Once there, the team was able to bond and spend time with one another, getting away from technology and the challenges of the outside world. They were also able to get to know one another at a closer level while also training for the upcoming season. 

“You lose your mind a little,” Gray said of the experience. “It is like a shared delusion, almost the kind that builds a brotherhood. It is just like wow, getting on an eight hour bus ride, and then completely disconnecting for a while.”

Playing sports at Augustana helps to further build friendships that will last a lifetime, so much so that it becomes difficult to leave when the time comes near. Emotions run high as tears are shed on senior day, making the final goodbyes even harder to bear. Leaving a team of people that these seniors have spent so much time with and grown so close to over the years is almost the equivalent of leaving family behind.

“I am going to miss this program so much and I am so grateful to everyone that was involved in it,” Van Essen said. “I know it is cliché to say, but they also were making me a better person and I am just so grateful for each and every one of them.”