A peculiar senior season
For some, there’s a do-over.
For volleyball senior and finance major Bridget Doherty, putting on a Dayton Flyers jersey was a simple joy — until COVID-19 hit.
“The things that you thought were automatic are not anymore, and you have to rewire your brain to be thankful for the opportunities that you’re given,” Doherty said.
For Briley Sidor, a senior mechanical engineering major on the softball team, it was old news; her junior spring season in 2020 had already been cut short.
“When COVID hit and I lost my season, I felt like I had lost my identity,” Sidor said. “Every March since I was old enough to play school sports, I was in season March through May, and that was gone. I felt like I had no purpose.”
A teammate of Sidor, senior psychology major Olivia Lessman, said she also went through periods when she had to re-identify herself.
“Every March since I was old enough to play school sports, I was in season March through May, and that was gone. I felt like I had no purpose.”
“Going through that time I was like, ‘What am I good at and what do I like?’” Lessman said. “Obviously softball is something I do and something I love, but it’s not who I am.”
In her own shift of identity, senior basketball player and public relations major Erin Whalen said that putting on a “brave” face for the underclassmen in times of uncertainty was one of the hardest parts of her season.
“Even when I wanted to show my disappointment or frustration, I kind of had to mask my feelings and initial reactions so that my teammates could trust me to get them through this,” Whalen said.
Basketball senior Jenna Giacone, a sports management major, said her team had to get creative and not let the less-than-ideal situation affect them.
“The team had to find ways to stay connected, stay in shape and continue to grow and build with each other while not physically being together,” Giacone said. “Everyone in the country was struggling with the same thing, and we knew that. There was never a time that we could feel sorry for ourselves.”
“Everyone in the country was struggling with the same thing, and we knew that. There was never a time that we could feel sorry for ourselves.”
For those not ready to hang up their jerseys quite yet, the NCAA offered an extra year of eligibility for student-athletes whose seasons were altered due to the pandemic. Basketball seniors Whalen, Giacone and Araion Bradshaw have all decided to return next season.
“I knew I wanted to come back a few days after we returned from losing in postseason,” Giacone said. “My motivation was high, and my drive to be better was all I needed.”
Bradshaw, a civil engineering major, said she also made up her mind about staying for another season after their team fell short of victory in their NIT games.
“I made the decision exclusively on my own,” Bradshaw said. “It was more of just a feeling of where I was at mentally and physically at the end of the season, and when that time came I knew that I wanted to come back.”
When the announcement was first made about the extra season, Whalen originally thought there was no way she’d stay another year. But she said, “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has never happened to any athletes before. Not only do I get to continue playing a sport I love, but I will also be able to get my MBA.”