Coronavirus — The word has impacted each of us for nearly a year now. Each day is no less exhausting than the last, as many people are still trying to find the positive in a temporarily abnormal setting.
For senior athletes Elise Ertl and Connor Hamonic, who participate in volleyball and hockey respectively, their experience has been completely different: their family and friends cannot come to watch them play games, they cannot be with their whole team unless it is during practice or a game, and they must be tested multiple times a week— the slightest chance of a positive COVID-19 test cancels a game.
Walking in to their last year of eligibility, both Ertl and Hamonic realized it would not be the same, so they prepared to not expect anything, while keeping an open mind. Both athletes agreed that they would rather have a different experience than no experience, but it isn’t ideal for the different experience to be their last. As it turns out, it doesn’t have to be.
The NCAA acknowledges that for seniors such as Elise and Connor, they don’t get to experience those intangible details of being a senior in athletics, such as mentoring the freshmen on their team, given the risk of contracting COVID-19 from their interactions. Because of this, the NCAA has given seniors athletes an option: to come back and play for another year.
The option is hard to ignore, so it got many students considering a return would be worth it. Playing another year of the sport also includes taking more classes and paying another year of tuition. The option is clearly oriented for students who see the sport as a potential career, but not all students do.
In truth, the virus hindered many opportunities for both Ertl and Hamonic, but it did not hinder their future.
Elise, for example, plans to attend grad school for journalism, while Connor is ready to return home to Canada for a new job after graduation. In their cases, coming back to Superior for another year to play doesn’t quite fit into their plans as they are ready to move on. However, both acknowledged plans to keep their respective sport in their life to some degree.
We can owe at least this to COVID-19: it offered all of us the choice of transition, even if it was a crazy one.