Today there are exactly five days left of the school year. There are also exactly 10 days until graduation. While these numbers give me anxiety, I can’t help but realize that for a senior, the digits would appear even more daunting. 10 days left to remember college by, or, based on my observations thus far, not remember. It’s no secret that seniors this year and all years are faced with a dangerous cocktail of emotions as the days dwindle toward graduation, but this week I had to wonder, is the fear of the future even worse for graduating athletes?
Because the last organized sport I was involved in was in sixth grade, and I spent most of the time hiding on the bench, I went into my research feeling as if I could not be more removed from the anxiety of an athlete. I was faced with so many questions: will they ever be on a team again? Will they keep in touch with their teammates? Do they get to keep their uniforms? And, most importantly, the age old question: if someone was an athlete in college, but no one was there to see it, are they still considered an athlete post-grad? What makes an athlete an athlete?
My research began with the difficult question of who to interview concerning my confusion. After careful consideration, I went back to my old faithful: the women’s lacrosse team. These ladies have been featured in the column since day one and something about this topic had me feeling particularly nostalgic. The athletes most eager to answer my burning questions were, to my delight, the tough and talented Hannah Lyons and Natalie Shishido. Because these seniors judge both athletics and journalism to the highest standard, I knew I was in for some juicy answers. Not only were the lacrosse players of particular interest because of their individual strengths, but because of the current circumstance of the women’s lacrosse team. On the final weekend of the year, the women’s lacrosse team will be traveling to California in the hopes of taking down Scripps College, subsequently giving them the opportunity to beat a rival, while also forcing them to miss one of the biggest weekends of the year.
“I am so excited to play this weekend,” Shishido explained to my surprise. “It feels like a rivalry between us and I think we’re lucky to get the chance to play them one last time.”
“We’re focusing on that and not the consequences of missing this weekend or the outcome of winning,” Lyons explained. If the team wins their game in California, they will play another game the following weekend, meaning the seniors will miss their graduation weekend, and for many of them, be forced to travel while family members visit.
“This is a commitment we chose. We’re used to missing weekends and we know how to focus on the competition.” Shishido said. While I could appreciate their focus, I had to wonder about the strength of commitment. After 18 plus years of commitment to one or more sports, doesn’t the idea of an end feel somewhat sweet?
“Just being around lacrosse makes me happy,” Shishido added. “I’ll definitely find a way to be around it and keep being an athlete.”
“It’ll be nice, but I’ll always be active.Being done will be an adjustment, but I think every graduate has that. For us it’s just about our sport,” Lyons concluded.
And with that simple statement, she said more than she knew. Graduating is hard, not just for athletes, but for everyone. And even though it happens every may, the internal struggle that occurs can feel
impossible. But perhaps there is strength in knowing you’re not alone. Whether you have a job lined up or you’re dreading moving back home, things are changing. So get out there, change and grow and know that you’ll always have a home on this little campus, where the rest of us are cheering you on, from the bleachers.