Nick Knacks

Column: I Understand Why Senior Year is Ending This Way. That Doesn’t Make It Any Easier, Though.

Emily Burdett | The PhoenixLoyola men's volleyball head coach Mark Hulse looks on as his team takes on McKendree at Gentile Arena Feb. 27.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

My last game as a student journalist shouldn’t have been at Arch Madness, but at a softball game at Loyola Softball Park. I should be enjoying my final two months on Loyola’s campus, taking my final strolls to class as I prepare for the “real world.” Most of all, I should be putting together five more issues of The Phoenix with the entire staff.

Instead, I’m on an Amtrak train home — a Friday morning in the middle of March. No, it’s not for spring break. No, it’s not for a weekend trip to get some family time.

Frankly, it’s to get the hell out of Chicago.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. Classes have been moved online at Loyola for the rest of the semester and events are being canceled all over as we try to contain the spread of this disease. 

The sports world hasn’t been spared from this craziness. In fact, it’s taken a hit the likes of which we’ve never seen — including a big one close to home.

Harry Soenksen | The Phoenix Effective immediately, all Loyola spring sporting events — including games and practices — are canceled.

March 12, Loyola Athletics announced the remainder of its spring sports seasons had been canceled. That means the men’s volleyball, softball, golf and track and field teams saw their seasons end just as they were getting started. It was just one small part of one of the craziest news cycles in history, maybe the craziest ever.

While it means we won’t be able to watch any Rambler games the rest of the year, it also means those senior student-athletes saw their careers end far too soon. 

This isn’t just happening at Loyola, though. A number of athletics departments across the country have taken this same step in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. March Madness and the Women’s College World Series — two of the best college championships of the year — are canceled.

Those basketball players who finally made it to the big dance won’t get to experience the biggest stage of them all, and those senior softball players who’ve been playing their whole lives now have to hang up their cleats. It sucks, but it’s the necessary step. This is a very serious situation and we have to keep in mind the people affected by this disease — whether they have it or they have family who do.

I feel for those student-athletes whose seasons got ripped out from underneath them. I was gearing up for my final two months covering Loyola games before graduation. The men’s golf team was set to play its conference championship 10 minutes from my grandma’s house during finals week, and I was hoping to go cover it. 

Nick Schultz | The Phoenix Loyola senior outfielder Shannon McGee hits a double down the first base line.

Instead, here I am, looking out my train window as the cornfields fly by at 80 miles per hour. This wasn’t at all how I envisioned my senior year effectively ending. 

I mean, how could anyone see this coming? The last two months between spring break and graduation are supposed to be a celebration of four years of hard work finally paying off. I love my family and can’t wait to spend some extra time with them between my classes, but I was really looking forward to putting a bow on my college career.

I’m going to miss sitting in the Gentile Arena stands watching volleyball games with my laptop out as I live-tweet. I’m going to miss trekking over to Loyola Softball Park in the cold to watch the game my sister has grown to love. I’m going to miss every coach and player I’ve talked to in a postgame press conference — no matter how formal they were.

These last four years have been so good to me. I’ve made memories that will last a lifetime and met so many great people along the way. What I’d do to get two more months of the full experience.

Damn, this sucks.

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