The Bitterness of Leaving Unfinished Business Unfinished

How NYU senior athletes in fall sports are processing the canceled fall season.

NYU Athletics are cancelled for the Fall. NYU senior athletes in Fall sports discuss how they have processed the canceled season. (Staff Illustration by Deborah Alalade)

When CAS senior Dillan Spector learned that fall sports were canceled, he had little time to rue the lost season. He had a decision to make, one he had been delaying making until he knew for sure sports could not resume in the fall. Aware that becoming a doctor is a lengthy process — four years of medical school, a minimum three-year stint in a residency program Spector was originally not interested in taking a gap year after graduating NYU. 

However, there was a lingering annoyance with how he and the men’s cross country team ended the prior season. He decided he will put his post-college plans on hold and use the extra year of eligibility the National Collegiate Athletic Association granted fall athletes in light of the coronavirus.

“Last year, I made it to Nationals, but first: we did not make it as a team, and second: I did really bad at Nationals,” Spector said. “I didn’t want to leave it at that.”

Stern senior Richie Rambarran has also faced this question of whether he should use his extra year of eligibility or accept an unsatisfying conclusion to his collegiate career. Unlike Spector, he remains undecided. Rambarran was vying for a redemptive season this fall, having missed all but two games his junior year with a concussion.

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“My senior year, I really just wanted one more chance to put on the NYU jersey,” Rambarran said. “I looked forward to having the Senior day with my parents, teammates and coaching staff and having that moment of closure. Now, not having that is a tough pill to swallow.”

Rambarran’s frustration is shared across all senior athletes in fall sports, regardless of whether their prior season ended on a high or a low. The inability to have a say in how their senior seasons will end has left them feeling as if they are leaving their careers unfinished. If they thought they could have achieved more, they have lost their final opportunity to end their four years at NYU on their terms. If their last season was successful, they have lost an opportunity to build upon that momentum.

Following a season in which the men’s golf team placed first in four out of the five tournaments they attended, Tisch School of the Arts senior Robbie Keyes was looking forward to a hardware-filled season.

“It definitely sucks, especially because our team this year is probably the best that it’s been in history,” Keyes said.

Keyes, who plans to use his extra year of eligibility, still has hope that the team can play during the spring season. Attending classes remotely from his home in Kentucky, he has done his best to replicate the team’s normal practice schedule, going out to the local golf course Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to stay sharp.

Staying prepared, even with the uncertainties surrounding a potential spring season, has also helped reintroduce a sense of routine in the lives of senior athletes.

“I just kept running because it kept me sane,” said CAS senior Anna Kaufman, a member of both women’s cross country and track. “I know a lot of my other teammates are doing the same, running regularly just to stay in shape and to be ready in case something happens.”

Kaufman and the other seniors on the cross country team have also made a concerted effort to integrate the incoming freshmen into the team —  at least virtually — via Zoom workouts.

“We have a lot of incoming freshmen that were going to be on the cross country team,” Kaufman said. “NYU is such a hard place to meet people in general that we really wanted them to feel welcome.”

The importance of providing a community for the new recruits has also not been lost on the seniors of the women’s soccer team.

“We have these things called color war groups,” CAS senior Julia Raith said. “We get paired with different people from different classes. So we have a couple freshmen in our group and we’ll reach out to them to see how they are doing.”

Raith says whether she plays for another season is contingent upon which law school she attends. As seniors can maintain their year of eligibility if they attend graduate school at NYU, she will look to use that extra year if she goes to NYU School of Law. Meanwhile, she has been trying to stay active, practicing with her Women’s Premier Soccer League team, joining the executive board for the CAS senior class, and attending team-wide Zoom meetings on Fridays. Nothing has yet fully replicated the feeling of camaraderie she experienced with the team day in, day out.

“I really just miss my team and playing soccer,” Raith said. “There’s a physical aspect of life I think is lacking right now. So going out to dinner or doing homework with the team, it’s just the basic way of life that I miss.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 21, e-print edition. Email Kevin Ryu at [email protected]

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