An Incomplete Goodbye: Senior Student Athletes Open Up

On March 13 PSAL suspended all sports activities, which included games, practices, try-outs and other events.  Although many New York City public school student athletes have next year to look forward to, this leaves seniors participating in Spring sports with an incomplete high school experience.

“After hearing that the NBA season was postponed and that college seasons were being canceled, I kind of already had a feeling that PSAL sports would eventually be suspended,” Girls’ Varsity Flag Football player Meenakshi Mugrai said. “I was definitely sad and completely heartbroken when they announced it because it was something that I had looked forward to for so long and was so excited about.”

Boys’ Varsity Baseball team member Ethan Mak shares Mugrai’s sentiments. 

“My reaction to PSAL sports being cancelled was quite upsetting,” Mak said. “As a senior, this was my last year to step out onto the field with teammates. Being a four year varsity player made it worse as I have created many strong bonds and memorable moments with a team I consider family.” 

Many other senior athletes are saddened by the uncertainty of the situation. 

“I’m very sad because I’ve been working hard so I can enjoy my senior season and everything that comes with it, like senior day and my last high school game,” Varsity Softball team member Megan Bell said. “The hardest part is not knowing if I’ve played my last high school game ever.”

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get to step back onto the field again with my friends and play for one of my favorite coaches. I’ve always admired my captains every year and wanted to eventually lead the team and fix things that I had problems with, set an example for the rest of my team.”

While the majority of senior athletes who’s seasons were affected by the virus will miss being able to play their sport, some are also upset about missing other aspects of their season. 

“Megan and I have been on varsity since freshman year and we’ve always looked up to at least one of the seniors every year,” said Nicole Kemmett, who plays alongside Bell on the Varsity Softball team.  “Now that we’re finally in their shoes we can’t even do the things they did like lead the team or have a senior day.” 

NYC public schools being closed and PSAL activities being suspended also means that teams can no longer practice six times a week.

“I try to stay active by throwing and hitting with my brother in my backyard,” Boys’ Varsity Baseball team member Joseph Salerno said. “I try to stay optimistic that this will be over soon and that we can have somewhat of a shortened season.”

Though the hopes of being able to complete their season is on the minds of many seniors, for some there are aspects of the season that cannot be replaced and pose logistical problems in attempting to accomplish even a shortened season.  

“To say that I am content with the status of the season would be a lie,” Boys’ Varsity Baseball team member Daniel Gall said. “However, I believe that at this point the season needs to stay closed for the rest of the year. Not because of the virus, but because of the nature of baseball.” 

According to Gall, the team has been training since October on different aspects of the game, such as “weekly weight training sessions” and “baseball specific drills”.  If the season did resume, the pause in training would have negative effects on the team’s performance. 

“All of this was to make sure that we were able to throw a ball at 70% power by our first game on March 20,” Gall said. “If I don’t build up and sustain my arm and shoulder it can leave me at great risk of injury.”

Gall also expressed disappointment in not working with his coach this season. 

“I will miss my coaches because Mr. Palladino and his father have had a tremendous impact on me throughout the years. Not having them to look up to moving forward is quite disappointing.”

The teams who prepared all winter for their chance to play in the Spring were not prepared for the effects of the pandemic on their final season. 

“It makes it worse that no one knew this was coming,” Mugrai said. “We didn’t know that the practice we had would be our last practice and the last time that we played together. We didn’t get the closure of knowing it would be our last and we didn’t get to make the memories we were excited to make.”

“I’m going to miss the boys and the talent,” Boys’ Varsity Volleyball player Michael Morris said. “Our coach received emails from coaches across the city saying that we were the team to beat. The boys and I had trained all year for this. We missed tournaments, playoffs, and big rival games like Townsend and Cardozo.”

Though the loss of their final season as a high school student is hard on many student athletes of spring sports, they still push through, a trait they have acquired from the sports they love.  

“At the moment, I am still working through the emotions but I’ve gotten to a point where I accepted that life sometimes isn’t fair and I’ll always have three years of playing to reminisce on,” Morris added. “The hardest part of all of this is how much I wish I could hug my friends, but right now hugs are literally life threatening.”