KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/ISI PHOTOS

It’s still difficult to believe that it’s been less than a week since the NCAA announced their decision to cancel all remaining winter and spring sports seasons. Although it was the only responsible decision, student-athletes across the country continue to mourn the loss of their season and, for some, the end of their sports career. Just Women’s Sports sat down — virtually and most definitely six feet away — with college athletes from around the country to discuss the impact of the coronavirus and life without sports. 

What were your initial reactions when you heard your season was canceled?

“Tufts University was one of the first to receive news that spring sports were cancelled, and at the time it felt so unfair, like ‘why us?’ Not many other schools in the nation, besides some close to us, were cancelling their seasons at that point. It felt like something was being taken from us while others still continued like nothing was wrong. Now athletes across the country are dealing with the same issues. In a sense, it kind of lessens the blow, but it still hurts. Our seniors are the ones that suffered the most. Specifically for our team, which is DIII. Our conference doesn’t have a fall season so our seniors didn’t even get to put a jersey on this year. There was no way for them to prepare for the end of their softball careers, and that’s what hurts me the most. Everything changed so quickly, with absolutely no warning. One day our team was practicing and planning for our first trip of the season to Florida and the next day our coach was telling us it could be our last practice of the season.” — Sofia Molina, Tufts Softball

“I was heartbroken. I have so many friends who were in the thick of their winter seasons and excited for the NCAA tournament. Our women’s basketball team was having an incredible season and to end it like this is so sad. I also feel for the spring sports who never even really got a chance to compete. Playing sports brings us all so much joy. To have that taken away from you is so disappointing, especially when college seasons are so short. It makes you really appreciate your sport. I think everyone at Stanford understands that cancelling sports is the right thing to do, but athletes are also devastated that they don’t have a chance to play out their season.” — Sierra Enge, Stanford Soccer

“It’s pretty crazy. It all happened so suddenly. I think a lot of people kind of knew in the back of their minds that this was a very real possibility after hearing about the NBA cancelling and then a bunch of professional sports leagues cancelling. We figured that it was only a matter of time before the NCAA decided to do the same thing. But obviously everyone’s devastated because we worked so hard all year, and then not being able to finish out your season is just really tough. The seniors probably took it the hardest out of everyone just because it all really came to an end for them. It was really sad and still is really sad, for all of us.” — Taylor Scornavacco, Stanford Lacrosse

“I was with a few of my teammates when we officially found out, and they started crying. I was just in complete shock of it all. I just didn’t know how to feel. Softball has been so important to me for so long that I couldn’t even comprehend the fact that I might not have my final season and that the sport was over for me entirely. It was just heartbreaking.” — Casey Maggiore, Tufts Softball

“It was definitely a whirlwind of events. We came back from our qualifying competition for the NCAA Championships only to find out the next day that they were cancelled. It was definitely heartbreaking to hear considering we have worked all season for this, and our team was more than ready to show how hard we have been working. It was the worst watching the seniors on our team hear the news, because they had no idea they were done with their season.” — Daria Lenz, Stanford Swimming and Diving

“At first, I was in disbelief. We had heard about other schools in previous days cancelling classes for a few weeks, but very few schools had addressed sports. I think it was really hard to hear that our season was cancelled because we had worked all fall and winter training, and we finally got to be in season and were coming off a huge win against Villanova, as well as close games against other top teams.” — Charlotte Clark, Harvard Lacrosse

Since the NCAA announced the cancelation of all sports there has been talk about eligibility relief for student-athletes whose seasons were affected. What are your thoughts?

“None of this has been easy, but we have all started to lean on each other during these tough times. That is the most important thing we can do. Being a senior, I definitely have yet to really come to terms with softball being over. I think it is great that the NCAA is potentially offering some type of eligibility relief, but I am not sure it will be all that easy for seniors who may have jobs lined up or financial concerns. Since the announcement, I have definitely started thinking about pursuing grad school at Tufts and using a redshirt year to play out my last season. But honestly, it all depends.” — Casey Maggiore, Tufts Softball

“I think that it is really important that seniors don’t lose their opportunity to play, especially in their last year of eligibility. But even if eligibility relief is guaranteed by the NCAA, Harvard seniors probably won’t redshirt at our school because we do not have graduate programs for them to continue their education. Additionally, because this was never foreseen, a lot of seniors already have jobs set up for after school, so it would be difficult to put everything on halt and start over.” — Charlotte Clark, Harvard Lacrosse

What was your coach’s reaction?

“Everyone was really disappointed and speechless, especially the seniors. It was hard for my coaches and teammates to really say anything. Our coaches knew how upset we were but they continued to offer their support and reminded us how this isn’t anyone’s fault and it is out of our hands. The overall message was to stay positive and to stick together.” — Charlotte Clark, Harvard Lacrosse

“They took it very hard. But they were all very strong for us. They said this sucks, but you know, life is going to teach you lessons sometimes and this is just one of those lessons that you have to overcome.” — Casey Maggiore, Tufts Softball

“We had a team meeting, and our coach’s message to the team was to stick together. She was obviously upset and unprepared for our season to end so suddenly and felt deeply for the seniors. She said how she didn’t plan for that meeting to be the last time she speaks to us as a team and wants to, once everything settles, give the seniors a proper send off. But at this point, for her, she’s all about trying to get us to ride through this together and stick together, not lose those relationships that we’ve worked so hard to develop.” — Taylor Scornavacco, Stanford Lacrosse

“Our team had a meeting, and it was great to get everyone to talk about the issue all together. It started out pretty sad, but our coaches ended it on a great note, recognizing that our hard work made this year something we will never forget. We all agreed that we didn’t need the NCAA Championships to recognize what we achieved throughout the season.” — Daria Lenz, Stanford Swimming and Diving

How has your offseason training been affected by all of this? 

“It’s hard to complain when other sports lost their entire season. But the spring offseason is still very important for our soccer team. We graduated a lot of players in the fall and the spring is the time when we have the most hours to train with our coaches and when we can play games. We had 5 spring games lined up, 2 against boys teams to help us prepare for the season. Not being able to compete will be tough for our development. We are also not able to train together at all. It’s hard to train for a game by yourself. Nothing really gets you prepared except training in a high intensity environment like Stanford.” — Sierra Enge, Stanford Soccer

How is the virus now impacting your training with the US team? 

“I am currently at home, where the facilities are closed. We are taking this week off, but we are unsure of how we will be training and when we will return to campus. The Olympic Trials are still taking place, but everything is up in the air as of now.” — Daria Lenz, Stanford Swimming and Diving

“US soccer has cancelled all events until April and will reassess the situation then. I train with the U20 team and our U20 World Cup is supposed to be in August, but who knows if that will happen anymore. These next few months were going to be the time for us to train hard and prepare to hopefully win a World Cup. Our trip to Spain in April is cancelled, and we are just waiting to hear about when we will be together next. As of right now we do not know much. We were just sent a fitness packet for the next four weeks and told that they would reassess the situation after that four weeks and get back to us. The US hasn’t won a U20 World Cup since 2012, and we wanted to represent the US and go back to our winning history. I don’t know what will happen with the tournament, but not being able to train together is obviously a huge disadvantage.” — Sierra Enge, Stanford Soccer

How do you plan to stay active during this time off?

“I’m definitely just trying to make sure that I’m staying balanced and healthy. I am focused on my school work, even though my classes are online, and I am enjoying time with my family at home. From all of this, we are all learning to not take anyone or anything for granted.” — Taylor Scornavacco, Stanford Lacrosse

“Right now, our coaches told us to keep touching our stick and working, but they are not going to give us a training plan until the summer. So we will all just need to stay active and fit on our own.” — Charlotte Clark, Harvard Lacrosse

“I definitely have less resources at home than I do at school. I am not sure how I will be training the next couple of weeks. As of now, we are all just waiting it out.” — Daria Lenz, Stanford Swimming and Diving