NYU Senior Athletes React to Their Final Season’s Early End

Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, NYU senior athletes lost their final season of spring athletics.

NYU senior student-athletes react to the cancellation of their spring season. (Staff Illustration by Charlie Dodge)

On Thursday, March 12, Evan Lindley, CAS senior and captain of the men’s volleyball team, was in his apartment in Brooklyn discussing with his father and sister the necessary steps to take amidst NYU’s transition from in-person to online classes. Though NYU was shifting to remote classes, Lindley assured his father that he would remain on campus for the entirety of spring break, practicing with the volleyball team.

“Given that school is going remote through spring break, my response to [my father] was that I’m still in season until they tell us we’re not,” Lindley said. “I’m going to be here and continue practicing until they tell me I can’t.”

Unfortunately for Lindley, that came in the middle of the conversation with his family.

“Midway through this conversation, I got a text from Coach [Pina], who had just gotten off the phone on a conference call with a lot of athletic directors and coaches,” Lindley said. “He basically told our teammates that it wasn’t looking good. I don’t remember him fully confirming it, but I think he really just said that it doesn’t look good for us.”

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Upon hearing the news that his senior season was canceled, Lindley and his teammates were devastated.

“That night, we immediately jumped to get together as a team, spending quality time together before everyone left,” Lindley said. “Honestly […] I felt a ton of emotion in the moment.”

The following day, NYU Athletics released a statement canceling the remainder of the winter and spring athletic seasons, concluding the seniors’ final season as NYU Violets. Like Lindley, many senior athletes were devastated about the circumstances. “It feels like a piece of me died,” CAS senior and captain of the baseball team Zach Cohen said. “The amount of work myself and the other seniors put in for four years was so substantial that it felt like we got robbed.”

At the time of the announcement, the men’s volleyball team was 13-3, which is good enough for a number two ranking in all of NCAA’s Division III. Based on the strong start to the season, the team felt robbed of a possible playoff run. 

“The different thing about this year for us was that we had three years under our belt with pretty much the same set of guys,” Lindley said. “We felt a sense of confidence that came with experience and internally, within our team, the feeling was we could’ve won the NCAA tournament.”

The women’s tennis team was 4-0, coming off an 8-1 victory against Southern Virginia University on March 7. Although the season had just started, the team saw potential for greatness.

“Over my four years, I’ve seen our team recruit better and better players,” Stern senior and captain of the women’s tennis team Rupa Ganesh said. “We had an incredibly talented team from top to bottom, and I think we could have definitely made an NCAA run this year.”

Aside from the missed opportunity for recognition or accolades in their final season, the senior athletes will miss the friendships that were developed through their careers as NYU Violets. 

“I definitely think about my teammates that were there for me and some of them are my friends to this day,” CAS senior and member of the women’s track and field team Evelyn Nkanga said. “I’m definitely going to miss the team aspect of being a college athlete. I’ve had some pretty great coaches too, and I’m going to miss working with them.”

In response to the cancellation of the spring season, the NCAA decided to grant an extra year of eligibility for the athletes who compete in spring sports. For some, the opportunity to compete for another season is appealing.

“I think it’s at least kind of cool to think about that,” Lindley said. “Depending on how all of us deal with this loss, it could become more and more likely, as the months go by, that people just really want to get that back.”

For Carter Beardsley, a CAS senior and member of the men’s track team, his father is no stranger to an unprecedented abolition in sports. 

“My father was a swimmer when he was younger,” Beardsley said. “He was a national swimmer and he actually broke the world record in the 200-meter butterfly [in the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials]. It’s funny because he had the chance to go to the Olympics. He took first in trials and was actually heavily favored at the time to place [in the Olympics], but he boycotted because of the Cold War.”

His father’s experience has helped Beardsley cope with the loss of his final season. As a result, Beardsley has learned about himself — and the realities of life.

“[From this experience], I learned that life is unpredictable; you never know what’s going to happen,” Beardsley said. “You have to do your best to keep going forward and stay who you are despite the turbulent times.”

As NYU — and the rest of the NCAA — moves into a world without sports, the NYU Athletics community is emphasizing the importance to remember the bigger picture.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Mar. 23, 2020 print edition. Email Arvind Sriram at [email protected]

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