OSWEGO — Disappointing.
It’s one substantial word Oswego State coaches and athletic department officials are using to describe their emotions after the SUNY Athletic Conference cancelled the spring sports season, and when the NCAA axed winter championship tournaments and meets last week in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Susan Viscomi, Oswego State director of athletics, expressed sympathy for Laker athletes and teams losing their seasons — especially for senior athletes.
“My heart goes out to those five winter sport athletes who were excited about competing in their respective sports (at nationals),” she said. “Likewise, with the cancellation of all spring sports, those athletes are mourning the loss of their seasons.
“It has been particularly upsetting for our seniors to end their careers in this fashion. While every effort was made to devise a potential plan to continue, it became clear (last Thursday) that it would be impossible to do so. The safety and well-being of all concerned has to be the primary focus at this point in time.”
Before the news broke on Thursday, Coach Britt Howard said the women’s lacrosse team was “ready to approach the day and just expected to go through our normal daily schedule.”
The Lakers finished their 2020 campaign with a 2-2 record.
“As a coaching staff and as a team we are deeply saddened about the news of our season being canceled,” Britt Howard said. “Our day was shaken up by the devastating news that was delivered from the NCAA. Our hearts go out to the whole team, but especially our senior class who are having their senior season and experience taken from them.”
She added, “Our whole team showed so much hope and passion both on and off the field. This group of women didn’t care who got the credit as long as they were together. As I look back at our last game, everyone had the opportunity to contribute to our win by stepping up on the field and giving it their all.”
Oswego State softball coach Gabrielle Rivers called the decision “devastating for the athletes,” but understood why the move was made. Rivers, in her first season at the helm of the Lakers’ softball program, was geared up for the team’s season opener last Friday against Skidmore College.
“It is devastating for the athletes but their health and safety is more important,” she said.
Oswego State baseball coach Scott Landers said, “The players have worked hard over the course of the year,” but that he “gets it from a society standpoint.”
The baseball squad compiled a 6-3 mark in its short season.
“It’s still disappointing for the players,” he said.
Drew Bezek, coach of the men’s lacrosse team, expressed how the team was disappointed with the outcome, but said “we all understand that it’s bigger than sports right now as we keep public health in the forefront.”
The Oswego State men’s lacrosse season abruptly ended with a 3-1 record.
“From a spring sports standpoint, we’re all in the same boat,” he said. “We’re all trying to work through this together.”
While the Lakers’ spring sports seasons took a devastating hit, individual winter sports athletes were affected as well.
Oswego State wrestling coach Mike Howard saw two of his wrestlers, junior Christian Gramuglia and freshman Charlie Grygas, suddenly not be able to compete in the NCAA Division III Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Howard went on to say how it “was very disappointing for the student-athletes, coaches and the families of the participants who had traveled to Cedar Rapids.”
“Leading up to the cancellation of the tournament, it was an emotional roller coaster for the athletes,” he said. “The guys were really excited after arriving and getting a workout in at the arena on the NCAA championship mats.
“Prior to that during the flight out it was announced that no spectators would be allowed, then it was changed to only immediate family members would be allowed in the arena. To then have the championships cancelled just 13 hours prior to the start of the competition was difficult.”
Oswego State indoor track coach Jacob Smith had seniors Catarina Burke and Sarah Yensan watched as all of their hard work was ripped from them.
Smith is also the outdoor track coach.
“For senior athletes, especially those that had qualified for their first NCAA championship meet after the culmination of years of training, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was lost,” he said. “At the same time, we understand the necessity of canceling the championships because of the gravity of the coronavirus and the need to minimize its transmission in order to prevent deaths.
“Compared to anyone who loses their own life or that of a loved one, we are very fortunate if we only lose the championships.”
Despite a plethora of seasons lost, the NCAA provided hope by saying they’re looking into giving student-athletes another year of eligibility. Concrete details from the NCAA for plans to extend eligibility are to be determined.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Landers said in reference to the NCAA’s plan. “It’s out of the players’, coaches’ and institutions’ hands, so it’s easier for the NCAA to grant everyone another year of eligibility. I applaud the NCAA for this because it’s the right thing to do for the student-athletes.”
Bezek said, “A lot of the guys have a limited time playing college athletics. I think for the guys that really want to come back, be able to use that and have their full four years, I think it makes sense they’ll have some flexibility.”
The seniors have a difficult decision to make in regards to continuing their college career or moving on. Nonetheless, the recent seniors are still the stepping-stones for the rest of the team even though they weren’t able to play a full season.
“Our seniors have faced many obstacles throughout their four years that they have had to overcome,” Britt Howard said. “The message we want to leave with the seniors for all sports is always be grateful for your opportunity whether it does deal with sports or just life in general.”