I was extremely lucky that I got to finish my senior season as a swimmer a week and a half before the cancellations of professional and collegiate sports. With everything going on in the world right now, the cancellation of NCAA competitions may seem like the bottom of the list in terms of importance on the world scale. However, for many student-athletes across the United States, losing the end of your senior season can feel as devastating as losing a loved one.
We have been defined as student-athletes not only for our entire experience at Seton Hall, but for some of us, the majority of our lives. To have that identity taken away without warning is something that a lot of people are struggling with. I am still struggling with it even though I was fortunate enough to conclude my season in the typical fashion.
We have walked through life defined as competitors, using our respective sports as something to lean on when faced with adversity. Collegiate athletes love their sports as they love themselves; there is hardly a separation between the two.
As seniors, it is very likely to feel like your body is burned out and you may be happy that your season is concluded early. Whether you are happy or not you are still losing a big part of yourself. It is ok to feel devastated and it is also OK to feel relieved. Being a collegiate athlete has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Looking back at my time as a student-athlete, I have struggled but I am grateful.
I wanted to share a segment of my speech that I had the opportunity to read in front of my teammates, family, and coaches after the conclusion of my final season.
“You all have given me the opportunity not only to swim and compete at a collegiate level for four years, but to meet people who I now can’t imagine my life without. My class connected with each other immediately when we all met freshman year. We have been through some hard times, but when I look back all I can remember are the things that make me smile and laugh. I consider you all to be my second family. The thought of not being only a few feet from any of you next year makes me too sad to put into words. But I know that what we have shared through these last four years will keep us connected forever even if we can’t physically be together. The team as a whole this year has been my favorite team I have been a part of in my time at Seton Hall. I did not get to swim at the level I wanted to, but that was all ok because I got to watch all of you push each other and succeed in one way or another. I really do love and appreciate everyone on this team for making me smile on days I didn’t think I could. Keep being yourselves and remember to support each other through whatever challenges you face. To my younger teammates, keep pushing and appreciate every moment you have to compete and have fun together.”
The conclusion I made while writing my speech was that in the end, it doesn’t matter how many competitions I had or how hard practice was. What made everything so special was the people I got to meet and the friendships I made.
I know how devastating it can be to have your world and identity change in a single moment. My advice is to remember the connections you made and appreciate the time you had to do what you loved.
Clara Capone is a senior graphic design major from West Hartford, CT. She has served as Graphics Editor of The Setonian for the entirety of her college career. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.