Press "Enter" to skip to content

Personal Essay: Sadness and guilt over spring 2020 athletic season cancellation

It is ironic that I found out my spring track season got cancelled while I was walking down to the track to do my Thursday run. As I scrolled through my phone, waiting for my friend and teammate Madison Armonda to meet me, I saw the email notification from Jessica Hammond, Deputy Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator. I immediately opened the email and saw the message I was both dreading and expecting: Athletic Director Brian Barrio suspended all Spring 2020 athletic seasons. 

The message froze me. I reread the words “suspend all Spring 2020 Retriever Athletics practices, meetings, and competitions” over and over, trying to make sure that I read it correctly. 

My friend found me on the last step of the stairs heading down to the track and asked me whether I had seen the email. I nodded.

“So, what do you want to do now?” she asked. 

That question seemed so stupid. Of course, we were going to run. It was what we normally did on Thursdays. We were D1 runners who, before that email, were on our way to having the first outdoor seasons of our collegiate careers. We had to run. Yet, we did not. We were, for the first time in our lives as runners, not in season.

“I think I’m going to cry,” Armonda said, beginning the motions we would have gone through at our normal Thursday practice.

The saddened faces of the men’s lacrosse team greeted us at the track. Almost every player was on their phone, telling their parents the news that their game the following day in Vermont was not going to happen. Despite knowing that their fate was sealed, Armonda and I still could not believe that our season was over. Not knowing what else to do, we started our run.

We pushed ourselves to go fast. Seeing the emotions of other student athletes opened ours up, allowing us to feel more than just disbelief towards our situation. We were sad. We were angry. We were confused. 

This confusion only increased when we got back and saw an email from our coach. In it, he explained that he was made aware of our season being canceled at the same time we had, and was still forming a course of action for the team. 

It was not until the following day, when the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced it was canceling all winter and spring national championships, that I accepted that my season was over. My mix of emotions remains, but a deep guilt and frustration with myself for being sad about my situation replaced my anger and confusion. While I had one of my remaining seasons taken away, my senior teammates had their final, pinnacle season stolen.

Nothing I have felt has compared to my senior teammates. On the day we all found out, my senior teammate and roommate, Bridgett Redding, broke down while I was out running.

The NCAA did give all student athletes an additional year of spring eligibility and are discussing the details about giving an additional year of winter eligibility to D1 student athletes. Despite this decision, many of the seniors have already accepted jobs for the following year and do not currently see a clear path to return to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to use the extra eligibility. What the NCAA plans to do to help them is yet to be decided.

In this tumultuous time for all athletes, my teammates handle their emotions differently. For one, it has been to throw herself into her art and graphic design, using this as an opportunity to further expand and improve on her portfolio. For another, it has been to spend time with family, using this as a time to catch-up on the things she has missed while being in school. For me, it has been to keep running, using it as a time to remember that not everything in life is certain.