by Collin Frazier
With the country taking the measures to contain COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, this unfortunately has halted all play in college athletics, including the University of Findlay, with all G-MAC conference play being canceled for the remainder of the season, as well as all travel. UF Athletic Director, Brandi Laurita, says the decision was quick and universal via email.
“The G-MAC presidents’ council voted unanimously to cancel all spring athletic competitions and Great Midwest championship events.”
This decision had left both head coaches and athletes of Findlay shocked. The Pulse reached out to many coaches and athletes around UF via email, sharing their thoughts.
“My initial reaction to the outdoor season being cancelled was disbelief. Everything happened so suddenly and I found it difficult to process everything,” said men’s track sprinter Lane Kolb. “When I first heard of Division I athletics cancelling outdoor championships, I wondered if our season was in jeopardy. I did not want to give up working hard at practice though, so kept my mind off of these thoughts. However, once I heard of the NCAA cancelling Division I and Division III athletics entirely for the spring, I knew it was just a matter of time before this affected all of us at UF too.”
Along with disbelief, sorrow is another reaction echoed by Findlay Athletics. Women’s lacrosse player Mackenzie Cole shares what she will miss due to the cancelation.
“I will miss my teammates, especially the seniors, the most. I think I really took the opportunity to see them every day at practice for granted,” Cole stated. “Unfortunately, the seniors had their last season stripped away from them, and they did not deserve that at all. We will never play again as the team we had this past year, and that is heartbreaking.”
Not only were the athletes disappointed in this news, but head coaches as well, including tennis coach Doug Linden, who believed the team had the talent to win the conference.
“[It is disappointing because] one of our goals was to make the conference championship tournament and we felt that both teams were in position to do that. We were working hard and having some great results this spring with wins over many ranked opponents,” Linden said.
With this cancelation of spring sports, concerns have risen as to what would happen with students, including seniors, that are on scholarship. Laurita assured athletes that they will not lose their scholarships and seniors will be able to continue playing.
“The NCAA has implemented emergency legislation to increase scholarship equivalency limits to allow for seniors who would like to return to do so and not have to lose scholarships,” said Laurita. “Any underclass student-athletes will not see any impact on athletic scholarships.”
Some seniors will take advantage of this. Including Women’s golfer Meredith Wipper.
“I have decided to come back. I have talked with Coach Guarnieri constantly for the last couple weeks,” stated Wipper. “He welcomed me back and has been supportive throughout the entire process. I talked with my parents and they encouraged me to do whatever I thought best. It took me a few days to figure out what I wanted to do. Ultimately, I realized that I wanted to finish my career the right way. I want to enjoy all the memories with my teammates that I wasn’t able to do this year. I want to be able to finish what I started four years ago.”
While Wipper has decided to return for her final season, that cannot be said for every athlete, and it is hard for coaches to say goodbye to their athletes. Golf head coach Dominic Guarnieri there are certain things he will miss in this year’s team.
“I will miss every single one of them. [I will also miss] not getting to see them the entire spring and be out on the golf course with them,” Guanieri said. “I believed with all my heart this was going to be a ‘special’ season for both the men’s and women’s teams. I will miss laughing with them, I will miss them fist pumping when they make a long putt, I will miss them stopping up to my office just to say hey, and the list goes on…”
The athletes and coaches have a final messages of hope, appreciation, and readiness for the future.
“Something I appreciated during this tough time was Coach Kelly’s obvious love for the sport and her team,” said Cole. “She took it upon herself to do everything she possibly could to make us feel comfortable and try to understand the situation, and I am extremely grateful for that.”
“Our team came together as a collective unit very well toward the end of the indoor season and it is disappointing that we will not have the opportunity to support each other due to missing the outdoor season,” Kolb commented. “I hope that once we come back in the fall we are all ready to get back at it and work toward new goals!”
“The dedication, the hard work, and the belief that we see each day from our teams is something we will miss during this unusual time,” Linden stated. “But when they return in the fall, I am sure we will see that same determination that we saw so far in this shortened year.”
“Even though I will miss this spring season I know the best is yet to come. We must continue to build off of what we have and come out of this stronger,” said Guanieri. “The eight seniors that we have on the team are all going to go on to do great things. Luke Kelly, Drew Prater, Sam Griffith, Grant Ricketts, Cameron Bruce, Peyton Cooper, Meredith Wipper, and Mackenzie Keenoy all hold a special place in my heart. They took this program to new heights and left or are leaving a lasting legacy. I want to thank them all for their role in the success of the program the last four years.”
“I just want to thank Coach Guarnieri and Coach Roth for everything this year. They are both great leaders and in a situation like this, they both showed great resilience in the whole matter,” Wipper shared. “I also want to thank Mackenzie Keenoy, we have been on this journey together for the last four years and I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. Lastly, I want to thank my teammates Kristina, Jill, Danbi, and Lexis. I am so glad to be able to have one last go around next year. I am so grateful to everyone for being so supportive in this whole situation.”
Laurita has a message to all of Oiler Nation.
“There has been an impact all over the world and the University of Findlay is just one piece of that equation. Leadership of the university is doing what is in the best interest of our students while also following the orders established by [the] state and federal government. Findlay Athletics will continue to succeed into the future. We are Oilers and together we will come out of this unpresented event changed but ready for what new obstacles are ahead.”
Read a mom’s letter to her senior athlete at the University of Findlay.