As the College of Wooster Class of 2020 had their last in-person class on March 6, the Friday before spring break, the hardworking seniors were unaware that this would be their last class on the College’s campus, ever. Due to the ramifications of COVID-19, a virus that has turned into a global pandemic, almost all colleges in the United States had no choice but to shut their doors for the rest of the spring semester. On Tuesday, March 27, President Sarah Bolton sent a campus-wide email stating that the College would finish the semester online and students would not return.
In particular, the College’s spring athletes were faced with the unimaginable — their season had come to a sudden end. For senior athletes, they had stepped on the field, court or track as a Fighting Scot for the last time, without any kind of warning. Many athletes heard the heartbreaking news on their spring break trips with their teams, making the news even more gut-wrenching.
“When I found about my season ending far ahead of our normal schedule, I was in Hilton Head Island, S.C. with the rest of my team on our annual spring trip,” women’s golf player Emily Stoehr ’20 said. “I was devastated to see my collegiate career end so suddenly … it hurts especially as a senior, as these last moments of college are so profound.”
Wooster track and field senior Miki Rae ’20 was dumbfounded when he heard the news on his team’s trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. “Several schools in our conference started pulling their sports teams out of competitions for the rest of the season, and since it was so early on in the pandemic, many of us thought administrations were blowing the situation out of proportion,” Rae said. “But as time passed, news started rolling out, more schools started pulling their athletes out of competitions for the year, it became clear that it was becoming a really serious crisis.”
Waverly Hart ’20 said that losing her track season so abruptly was more heartbreaking than missing out on all other Wooster senior-based activities. “I think the worst part was not realizing that the last race I ran in was indeed my last race ever,” Hart said. “I’m really going to miss the running community and family that my team is.”
The Wooster baseball team knew their time playing together was limited, so they focused on enjoying each other’s company as much as they could on their trip. “Honestly, it’s been tough dealing with it,” Harry Whitwer-Dukes ’20 stated. “Obviously we didn’t want to go out like that and I think we are all sad that we’ll never get to play together again, but at the end of the day, I think we all tried to enjoy each other as much as possible.”
Although their time at The College of Wooster was cut short, athletes do not fault the school for the actions they took to prevent the spread of the disease. “I thought the school handled the situation as best as they could,” Witwer-Dukes added. “As a senior, it really felt like they were compassionate toward us about the whole situation as it was obviously a very tough spot for everyone.” Stoehr agreed, adding that students will need to be there for one another during these times of uncertainty. “This is new territory for everyone and there are no previous experiences to base mandates off of in this country, so we have to do our best to trust what’s been asked of us and hope that it pays off,” she said. “Wooster is such a strong community and I think we need to stick together as one in this trying time.”
As athletes mourn the loss of their seasons, they have had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons through these chaotic times. “I hope that we all recognize the impact we have on each other, regardless of if we personally know each other,” Stoehr said. Rae added, “One thing that we can definitely take from it is that we can’t take any of our relationships or our privileges for granted. Be intentional in the love and appreciation you show for others– especially now– but also take care of yourselves.”
As for Hart, she knows one thing — “right now, I’m just happy my family and friends are healthy and safe. If they stay healthy, I can get through anything.”