There are so many words that can describe the spring of 2020.
Unprecedented. Strange. Inexplicable. But for college seniors, the word is devastating. There will be no graduation ceremonies, no final parties, no sense of accomplishment mixed with that twinge of sadness when they take their last steps on campus. Instead, the spring months have passed with seniors in quarantine, some remaining in campus apartments, others home with their family, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
For senior student-athletes, that devastation is tripled. Not only have they missed out on the traditional senior experiences, they were robbed of a final season with their teammates. In an unexpected instant, their season was over. No graceful exits. No swan songs. The bus rides were over. The grueling early morning and late night practices were over. The senior days would never arrive. The lost spring season is a disappointing blow for all athletes, but it is the seniors who are penalized the most.
Millersville was set to bid farewell to 33 senior student-athletes across four sports, baseball, softball, women’s track and field, and women’s lacrosse. All sports had a reason to look forward to this season. For some, they were poised for dramatic improvements, while others had playoff aspirations. Every senior had a profound impact on their program as their coaches will quickly attest to. They deserve to be celebrated no matter how socially distant we are.
The softball team might have had only had two seniors, but they were powerhouse players. Emma Bevard, a pitcher on pace for her best statistical season, threw a complete-game shutout, giving up only three hits, in what would ultimately be her final game. Asked what she feels her greatest accomplishment is, Emma says, “After four years on the softball team, I can see how much this team and its culture has changed and I’m so glad I could be a part of that. We are truly a family and I look forward to seeing how far the team goes.”
Emma has left a lasting impression on Head Coach Jen Probst, who fondly remembers Emma for her collegiate accomplishments and for being her first recruit in 2015. “I can remember that phone call and the excitement I had to be adding her to the roster. She’s made me a better pitching coach and left a lasting impression on our program,” Probst says.
Emma remembers a game in her sophomore year that she calls one of her favorite in-game moments. “There was a home game, sophomore year I believe, when I dove for a bunt and caught it. It was in line between me and the catcher, but closer to the catcher. Many said that was the fastest they had seen me move. It was an awesome feeling to just go for it and catch it.” Emma admits it is hard to accept she may have played in her last softball game, though she hopes to coach pitching lessons in the future.
The women’s track and field team had a whopping 14 seniors on the roster. Twelve of them made a PSAC Championship event and nine of them were PSAC Scholar-Athletes. Coach Andy Young, a beloved figure in Millersville’s athletic programs, crafted an impromptu senior celebration on the last day of class where he recognized the seniors and gave them a frame containing their track uniform top.
Emonie Reviere is a sprinter on the track team, who is deeply involved in campus activities while being a dual major student and collegiate athlete. “My greatest disappointment in regard to missing my senior year is the fact that I only completed half of my season. The season in which the track team thrives in is our outdoor season, because we have practiced outdoors all year-round. I had practiced and trained extremely hard to prepare, only to have the season abruptly end. It was very difficult to accept, and I was heartbroken,” she says.
Emonie’s favorite in-game moment happened during the outdoor PSACs in her junior year. “We were on the last event, which is the 4×4, and we were tied for second with Shippensburg. On our last leg of the 4×4, a teammate ran a full sprint from the 200 mark to the finish first and beat Ship. Our team came in first place in that event.” She also fondly remembers Coach Andy’s “fun” practices. On one such day, Emonie says, “We did a dizzy bat relay with the entire team in the SMC. The entire practice was filled with laughter, happy tears, and plenty of falls.”
For Emonie, the most rewarding aspect about playing college sports is the friendship and family she gained, from the seniors who were on the team when she was a freshman, to the freshman who just joined. “We have all created an unbreakable bond. I could not ask for a better extended family or support system then what I received from the Millersville Track and Field team!”
The baseball roster was loaded with 11 seniors and graduate students, which gave the team huge playoff hopes. Their season was just gaining momentum when it was halted. Head Coach Jon Shehan says perhaps the thing he’ll miss most from his seniors is their leadership. “They LOVE this program – they view it as a family and they have done a great job building relationships with alumni, current teammates, and even future teammates. They have adopted and lived out our culture and its standards. They are genuinely good men.”
Cole Friese is an outfielder with speed on the field and power at the plate. For Cole, this lost spring season is especially disappointing. “I could speak for hours, but I would have to say to not be able to go out there and play for and with the guys that became family over the past four years [is the most disappointing part]. I have never been around a group of guys that are more competitive and selfless.”
Cole will remember going to dinner with the team and their long road bus trips as some of his favorite memories. Asked for a notable accomplishment, Cole says, “My greatest accomplishment is that I am about to graduate, while being able to manage time between schoolwork and sports.”
Cole will be remembered by Coach Shehan for his work on the field and off the field. “He will forever be remembered as an outfielder with crazy range and as the guy willing to literally run through a wall. I am most proud of his turnaround in the classroom. Cole went from not believing he could graduate to a perennial 3.0 student.”
The women’s lacrosse team hadn’t even had a home game when the pandemic halted their season. Their six seniors were all off to prominent starts in the team’s quest to return to the playoffs. Jasa Lorah and Sarah Leverentz are seniors that received the news on the same day they were preparing for their first home game. Despite the abrupt ending, the women’s lacrosse team still held an impromptu senior celebration, as told by Sarah.
“All the senior parents and some siblings came down the Friday our season was cancelled. We all went to Jack’s for dinner and then headed to the field for some pictures. This was so special to us all because we were able to all be together one last time and celebrate our lacrosse and school careers.”
Still, Sarah is disappointed that all of her biggest supporters were unable to see her final game. “Many of my high school teachers had games they were going to come to this season. I also wish my former club coach could have seen me play. She was one of my biggest supporters in lacrosse and I always looked up to her. My one sister made us all “Team Levy” shirts to wear for my final game. Between my three siblings, my parents, my brother-in-law, niece, nephew, cousins, aunts, uncles, and my boyfriend’s family, the stands would have been filled for my final game. That is something I wish I could get one last time,” she says.
Like many senior student-athletes, Jasa is still coming to grips with the lost season. “Sometimes I feel like I have a million things to say about missing my senior season and sometimes I feel like I have no words at all,” she says. “One of the absolute hardest things for me to come to terms with was not being able to prepare, not knowing that everything was about to end. You know that every season comes to an end, but it really hurts when you never see it coming.”
It was very tough for Jasa to choose a favorite in-game moment. “I am a defender so I am rarely able to cross onto the offensive side of the field. However, in one game, I crossed onto the offensive side and was fouled. Because I was fouled, I was able to take a free position shot on goal. It was one of the most thrilling moments for me ever because I am never on that side of the field,” she says.
Off the field memories were really easy to come by for Sarah and Jasa. Aside from their pregame dances in the locker room, Sarah says, “I enjoyed going to a local mini horse farm with the team each year. We would have a chance to feed the horses and even ride one! The owner is a good friend of Ville lax and we could never thank him enough for all that he does for us.” Jasa cherished eating almost every meal with her teammates. “After our early morning practices, we would all swarm Saxby’s and sit in the anchor and eat before class. We could spend 2 or 3 hours in Upper Deck sometimes, eating, hanging out, and goofing around without even realizing how much time passed,” Jasa says.
Every senior student-athlete has memories like these. On the field or off the field. With their teammates or in the classroom. Playing collegiate sports can be grueling and challenging, but it is so very rewarding. Even though the sting of this lost season will not fade any time soon, Emma, Emonie, Cole, Sarah, Jasa, and each athlete has memories that will last a lifetime.
Seniors, we salute your hard work and applaud your dedication and accomplishments. Best of luck in all of your future endeavors!