As athletes in different schools across the country are being allowed back to practice, CSU teams are still waiting for the announcement that will allow them to do the same.
After dedicating most of their lives to baseball or softball, senior athletes’ final hoorah was abruptly canceled right at the beginning of their spring season due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the United States.
Although complete cancellation is not the outcome that anyone wanted, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made the decision to give college athletes in spring sports the opportunity to return to play for another year.
When the NCAA released the statement, “The Division II Council voted to allow schools to provide spring-sport student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility,” everyone was surprised.
For many students, the choice was a difficult one and involved a lot of factors. These factors included not being able to afford another year, wanting to graduate, and wanting to start their career soon.
This is a short list of ideas that had to be considered before a final decision was made.
CSUSB graduate and former softball player, Samantha Vacko, shared the emotions she felt when she found out that her last season was being suspended as soon as it started.
“Initially, I was disappointed and heartbroken,” Vacko said. “This was my senior year and my last chance to ever play softball. I felt like I was getting cheated out of saying a proper goodbye to the game I loved for so long.”
Vacko opted out of returning to play during the 20-21 season because she had just been accepted into graduate school at the University of California, Irvine – something she worked for and, regardless of her disappointment, is excited to start her journey there.
Similarly, Carter Kimberly, a recent graduate and current baseball player, was extremely disappointed that his final season was being canceled abruptly and felt as if he was not getting the closure he needed after playing the game for so long.
“I came back because of the love I have for the game and all the educational benefits that come with being a student-athlete,” said Kimberly who decided to accept the invitation to return for another year for baseball. He’ll also be working on earning a Master‘s Degree in Public Administration.
When asked about her initial feelings after receiving the news, Haley Finn, a former CSUSB softball player and recent graduate said, “When I was first told that our season would be canceled, I was in shock and it didn’t feel real.”
Since the last four years of her life have revolved around the game, she was not sure what such an abrupt and disappointing ending would mean for her. “My decision to not return for another year revolved around the plans I have for my career and what I want my life to look like in the long run,” Finn stated.
Even though she has so much love for the game and did not receive the closure she needed, Finn felt that it was the right time for her softball career to come to an end.
Unlike Finn, a left-handed pitcher and CCAA all-star, Tyler Penix, has yet to graduate and was planning to attend CSUSB for one more year to finish his academic career before his baseball season was suspended.
“I was upset, but I understood that everyone’s safety comes first,” Penix said. “I needed another year to finish my academics so my parents and I decided that accepting the extra year would be the best move for me.”
The cancellation of 2020’s spring season caused CSUSB to lose senior talent prematurely, but if they get the signal when 2021 comes around, new players will emerge and teams will make their way back to the field.