Coronavirus Halts NCAA Lacrosse Season
After last week’s outbreak of COVID-19, lacrosse began to shut down their season, starting with many of the teams that play in the NESCAC conference in the Northeast. The response started Tuesday, with Tufts and Amherst making the call to cancel their seasons before the entire conference decided to cancel the remainder of their season. The domino effect continued from there, as the remainder of collegiate athletic conferences across the country shut down their winter and spring sports as well.
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As much of a bummer this is for fans across the country who will be unable to attend and watch sports throughout the remainder of the spring, especially lacrosse, many condolences go out to the seniors of those teams, many of whom may have already played their last collegiate event, not knowing at the time.
In a press release from the NCAA, they extended the eligibility for not only seniors, but for all spring athletes who had their season taken away from them by the coronavirus. But for many, the journey of being a collegiate athlete still ends in March 2020.
For many of these seniors, graduate school was never on the radar, and many of these students are forced to make a decision about the possibility of attending graduate school very fast. For many, the decision is easier than others as the institutions they attended during their four years offer graduate programs. For others, their school does not, where then they are stuck with a difficult decision: whether to attend a different school for one last year or to forgo it altogether and call it a career. Many might wonder why current seniors wouldn’t attend a different school to get a graduate degree and continue playing, but the loyalty many of these seniors have to their programs makes it much more difficult to jump ship for one year. A lot of these guys play more because of the team aspect rather than the individual aspect. Leaving a team after your season instantly was cut short is a difficult task but leaving that team to go play for another team, with different teammates, a different coach and in a different location would be even more difficult for many.
My heart breaks for all of the student-athletes, coaches, families and fans who did not get to see the end of the 2020 college lacrosse season. Many seniors didn’t get to have a real senior day, and many families did not get to watch their son or daughter’s last game. Many careers were cut short, and students were blindsided by the decisions to cut the season short to curb the COVID-19 outbreak. I applaud the NCAA for allowing every spring athlete another year of eligibility, and each institution for keeping their players safe, while attempting to celebrate and turn darkness into light during this difficult time for lacrosse and the sports world.
But expect to see a much, much different season next year when these guys are allowed to strap on the pads again. Those who will play, will play with a vengeance. Players will play every game like it is their last, because they know what the feeling is like to have everything taken away from them. The first day of the 2021 season, February 1, will be circled on a lot of calendars around the country. 321 days until college lacrosse.
Sam Kuhn currently is the graduate assistant for the men's lacrosse program at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio and is working to complete his Masters of Business Administration in 2020. Sam graduated from the College of Wooster in 2018, where he received his Bachelors Degree in English and played lacrosse as well. In his four years, Sam was a two time All-NCAC selection, a first team All-Region selection in 2018, and surpassed 100 goals for his career, one of seven members in program history to do so. Sam has interned with Inside Lacrosse, and wrote for the sports section of The Wooster Voice.