For student-athletes at Boston University, the opportunity to fulfill the goals for their senior season was taken away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, one year removed from the pause on play, seniors still remain optimistic that their final year may not be entirely ruined after all.
This year, several sports have gone through game postponements, practice cancellations and even a season postponement in order to continue following health and safety protocols. These constant pauses and resumptions have grown heavy on the student-athletes — on and off the field.
“We really don’t know from day-to-day what could happen,” men’s soccer player and senior Zion Balogun said. “The season could get canceled at any moment in time.”
For the men’s soccer team, its season, which typically is played in the fall, got moved to the spring.
“So much work had gone into [the season], to get told that there’s not really going to be a season … when you see other leagues actually being able to play, it can get a little bit emotional for some of the players,” Balogun said.
Another key difference this season is the lack of team bonding events student-athletes are allowed to have. Since the athletes do not all live together, they are also not allowed to be around one another without masks. This means no team dinners, no nights out and no get-togethers between practices. To combat this, teams like women’s lacrosse have thought up safe alternatives that allow the team to still develop chemistry and bond.
“We walk to the COVID testing center, or go pick up a coffee from Starbucks,” women’s lacrosse player and senior Maggie Lohrer said. “Some girls have been picking up some drinks and they just go on a long walk, just to get outside, do something safe but also get to know someone.”
Lohrer said she felt proud of her team and they felt as tight as ever in preparation for their season, despite the circumstances.
“We’ve managed to make do and really still promote our togetherness and our team chemistry,” Lohrer said.
For the men’s basketball team, which had a total of four games postponed during its season, season disruptions were commonplace. The postponements affected the team’s ability to find a rhythm in their play.
“It’s been such a wild year,” men’s basketball head coach Joe Jones said in a March 3 press conference. “It’s been really hard to get some momentum.”
Student-athletes also find the uncertainty of the schedule a challenge.
“It’s been crazy,” men’s basketball player Javante McCoy said in a press conference in February. “But those, like coach said, are just more excuses for why you might not be performing up to your standards. Those kinds of things, we just try to block them out. We just kind of look at the upside.”
The women’s ice hockey team also experienced a pause between Dec. 11 and Jan. 23 due to health and safety protocols. While it caused trouble for the team in their return to action, players remained positive.
“We did a really good job not really showing that we’ve had a month off, so I thought we did really well,” women’s ice hockey forward and senior Nara Elia said in a Jan. 23 press conference after a win against Maine.
This optimistic mindset is evident throughout BU sports. Several student-athletes keep this positive attitude in hope that one day their sport will return to normalcy and they will be able to play out a true senior season.
“Although things are definitely different and not at all what we were expecting them to be like, I think we’ve done a really good job adapting and making some changes and figuring out what works best for us,” women’s lacrosse midfielder and senior Emily Vervlied said in a Terrier Tuesday interview with BU Athletics in February.
Moving forward, the NCAA has announced that all student-athletes will be receiving an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing seniors to return for a perhaps more enjoyable senior season if they so desire.
“I’m actually really happy that that’s something we are able to access and use,” Balogun said of the extra eligibility year.
Despite the trouble the past year has caused and the potential dismissal of their once cherished senior seasons, seniors are still taking advantage of the opportunity they’ve been offered to play.
“It is what it is,” Balogun said. “You can’t really focus too much on what you’ve lost, just got to focus on what’s in front of you … It is different, but life goes on.”