By Jake Force
Since mid-March, almost every athlete worldwide has been forced to adjust to the pandemic in some way. Upon the pause of the NBA and NHL’s seasons and non-essential businesses closing due to the coronavirus, many questions arose about when we would be able to watch and play sports again. This two-part series will examine accounts from Curry athletes and coaches on how the pandemic has impacted their lives around their sports.
As athletes are supposed to do, many of them took the adversity on the chin. A minor setback for a major comeback. For others, their senior season was in jeopardy of being cancelled.
“We only played four games and we were in Hilton Head [at a tournament] when we found out that Lacrosse season was over for the year, we weren’t going back to campus and so that really took a toll on us,” said junior women’s lacrosse defender Averill Herr. “It was really hard for last year’s seniors because they only got to play four games and that was their last year. The difficult part was definitely being away from the team.
The older athletes seemed to be hit the hardest by the situation. When it’s your senior season, taking these circumstances on the chin is much easier said than done.
”As a senior, here you are in a situation where this could be your last practice or whatever it may be at any moment,” said senior men’s hockey forward Matt Henderson.
Curry football’s senior offensive lineman, George Makrin, spoke similarly of the adversity posed by the circumstances. “I’ve played for like seventeen years now, it’s just one of those things where you’re like ‘wow, you’re not going to have your last year of football,’ it’s terrible.”
For Makrin and his team, the stop in play created obstacles in building team chemistry and culture. He also mentioned the almost thirty-hours-a-week schedule of a college football player, and how losing that left a major void.
The football team arguably got the worst of the situation in terms of fall sports, since their annual pre-season camp—largely centered around team-building, a gigantic element of football—was canceled.
“I only know one of the freshmen and there was like twenty or thirty that came in,” Makrin said. “So we don’t know each other because football camp is a team building activity. I’d say the hardest part [for me] was probably not having anything to do to be honest.”
Other teams had much different experiences than that of Makrin and the Colonels football team. Henderson, with regards to the hockey team, acknowledged the adversity but spoke at length about the positives that came from the situation. One of them was being able to focus on individual development, including advanced skating training that couldn’t have happened absent the current situation.
“I don’t really know what a lot of teams are doing in this situation but I know Curry hockey got better over these last six weeks, and I can take that to the bank,” Henderson said. “And season or no season, this group is a special group.”
There have been pros and cons for sure, but what many older students are considering is whether to fulfill the extra year of athletic eligibility granted to every 2020 spring and fall athlete.
“I’m not opposed to that at all,” Henderson said. “I just think that right now, given the current state of everything I’m just trying to weigh all my options and make the decision that’s best for me not just hockey-wise but in life.”
Makrin, who has to come back to finish credits next fall anyway, says he will likely play another year, but is wary of the drawbacks. “I also have the perspective of ‘man, this is my last year, I’ve been doing this for seventeen years now, my body is on the brink of breaking, like do I really want to risk getting an ACL injury right before I start my life’?”
Herr, who will be entering a physical therapy program after graduating, will not pursue an additional season of eligibility.