Seniors mourn their last sports season

Emily Sun and Mia Calzolaio

When co-Captain of the Varsity Outdoor Track Team Charles Simmons (12) told his teammates that he had run his last race at the end of the indoor track season, they reassured him that he had another season outdoors in the spring. Now, Simmons’ statement rings true.
On April 2, Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly announced that the spring athletic season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The news reverberated among the spring athletes, but it was an especially hard blow to the seniors who had looked forward to leading and competing with their teams in their final year at the school.
“It just ended so abruptly,” Captain of the Varsity Crew Team Ben Goodman (12) said. “It’s sad when you work so hard for something and then see it collapse before your eyes. You can’t do anything about it.”
Other athletes were not as surprised by the news, yet the official statement made the reality have a larger impact, co-Captain of the Varsity Softball Team Diya Mookim (12) said. She was excited to see what the team would have looked like this year and was prepared to tackle new challenges.
“I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t shed any tears [over the lost spring season],” co-Captain of the Varsity Ultimate Frisbee Team Daniel Lee (12) said. “I had been looking forward to ultimate all year.”
Seniors were also dismayed by the loss of the opportunity to be team captains. Varsity Baseball co-Captain Mark Fernandez (12) said that as a freshman he looked up to the seniors and admired their leadership. This year, he wanted to play a similar role for the underclassmen, he said.
“I was looking forward to being able to lead the team and getting my chance to be recognized after being on the team for so long,” Captain of the Varsity Golf Team Matthew Wein (12) said.
Seniors also lost their chance to see their hard work pay off in competitions and make a final championship run. “The diligent effort by our kids put us in a position to win a championship, and they will never get to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” Varsity Golf Coach Tim Sullivan said.
Interacting with teammates is one of the highlights of spring sports, Fernandez said. “Not being around those people every day has been really hard and probably the thing I’ll miss most,” he said.
Spirit and camaraderie brought the tennis team to victory in previous years, co-Captain of the Boys Varsity Tennis Team Ishaan Kannan (12) said. He hopes that the team will continue to hold on to that, even though they are not playing together.
Before the cancellation of the season, spring athletes faced another difficult loss: the announcement that the annual training trips that most spring teams attend would no longer occur.
Over spring break, teams go to either California or Florida for a week to participate in intensive practices, play against teams they would not typically face, and, for those in Florida, spend quality time together at Universal Studios.
For many teams, the trip is a highlight of the year, as athletes have the opportunity to train and build camaraderie, Kannan said.
News of its cancellation arrived during one of the first weeks of the spring season. “Immediately, everybody’s mood went from smiles and being happy to being sad and gloomy,” Girls Varsity Lacrosse member Ranya Sareen (12) said. “The last 45 minutes of practice were pretty miserable.”
Similarly, the softball team came together and sat in a circle to share their mutual frustrations, Mookim said. “In that moment, being a team really mattered, because we understood that it was affecting all of us.”
To compensate for the lack of a spring trip and season, teams have turned to weekly Zoom calls to study game techniques and to work out. “We are doing our best to stay positive and just enjoy each other’s company,” Lee said.
Several teams hope they can celebrate the season and play together in the future, despite the new circumstances, Sullivan said. While the baseball team has no plans at the moment, team members are trying to hold on to the familial nature of the team that is absent from online practices, Fernandez said.
Although they lost their last high school spring season, many seniors wish the best for the futures of their teams. “I’m hoping that the current juniors step up next year and make the impact I wish I could have made,” Goodman said.
Last year, Sareen’s busy junior spring prevented her from fully appreciating the girl’s lacrosse season, she said. She hopes that the juniors on the team will be able to cherish their final season next year.
During this time, seniors are reflecting on their past experiences as athletes. “[The loss of a season is] unfortunate, but I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the team for the last three years and have made some great memories and some great friendships,” Wein said.