Brownie Points

Column: Brownie Points Made with Extra Love and Sadness for the Seniors

Zack Miller | The PhoenixSeniors Ian Cowen (left) and Kyle Piekarski (right) both hail from the Midwest.

It’s with a heavy heart I dip the pen to write what is most likely the last edition of Brownie Points this school year. 

It’s been a heckin’ good ride, filled with many ups ­— like men’s soccer’s Andrew Mitchell bursting onto the scene to win the first ever Brownie Point. There have also been times when teams, players or coaches underperformed and forced me to snatch some Brownie Points — such as the men’s basketball team struggling during the Cayman Islands Classic.

This week’s edition consists of a sendoff to the seniors in all the various spring sports. An athlete’s senior season is supposed to be the peak of their collegiate career, but that isn’t the case for the track and field athletes, golfers, softball players and men’s volleyball players.

With all that said, the players aren’t the only ones affected. Sports editor Nick Schultz wrote a column about how his senior year at The Phoenix wasn’t supposed to be over yet. That sentiment extends to fans, as well. 

Senior superfan Charles Hwang comes to mind. He’s become famous around Loyola’s sports community for being one of the most passionate, energetic fans and attending nearly every home game for every sport.

Just a few weeks ago, Hwang commented about how men’s volleyball games are “a hidden gem,” despite the team’s 7-11 record this season. There was no way he, or any other senior fans, would’ve known that the Ramblers’ 3-1 victory over McKendree University Feb. 27 would be the last game they’d see as students.

For me personally, not seeing Hwang at games will be strange. Going to a men’s volleyball game and not seeing senior middle blocker Kyle Piekarcki leaping through the air will take some getting used to. But it will be equally weird to not hear Hwang yell, “Who cares!” during opposing team’s starting lineup introductions or angrily berate the referees throughout the match.

Small things like this are something I definitely took for granted. It’s different for me since I’m a junior, and I’ll have next year to experience more emotional fans. But I fully expected to have another month of experiencing Loyola sporting events.

At least the men’s volleyball team was able to get through a large chunk of its season. Track and field’s outdoor season was about to start and golf and softball were just getting into the swing of things. In softball head coach Alicia Abbott’s first season at Loyola, her team wasn’t even able to play at Loyola Softball Park yet this year.

Sydney Shipe | The Phoenix Loyola senior outfielder Jess Shields swings at a pitch at Loyola Softball Park last season.

Senior outfielder Jessica Shields had a team-high .386 batting average this season. Senior Morgan Brown was one of the most consistent performers for women’s golf, with second-highest stroke average on the team at 79.6. 

The men’s track and field was bolstered by a strong senior class at the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Indoor Track and Field Championships Feb. 29-March 1. Redshirt senior Kevin White and seniors Riley DeMeulenaere and Demetri Panici made up three of the four-person group that took first place in the men’s distance medley. Also, senior Eric Burns won the MVC long jumping  title for the second-straight year.

For women’s track and field, senior long jumper Mackenzie Arnold and senior sprinter Denee’ Lawrence both submitted personal-bests at the MVC Indoor Track and Field Championships en route to top-10 finishes in their respective competitions.

There’s not enough space to go into detail about each senior on the various spring-season teams. But it’s clear the senior class was a pretty strong one across the board.  

So, while the teams and athletes couldn’t compete in conference championships this year, they have still earned the ultimate crown that is Brownie Points. I couldn’t possibly assign a numerical value to the Brownie Points. The points necessary to acknowledge their impact and rectify their season ending so abruptly is impossible to quantify.

Life needs balance, so I’ve also decided to take an infinite amount of Brownie Points from the coronavirus. It’s difficult to comprehend the absurd amount of damage and inconvenience it has caused. And I think I speak for everyone across the globe: this is not cool, bro.

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