Student-Athlete Column: Fateful Fro-Yo and Full Moon

While many spring seasons were cut short due to the coronavirus, the unfortunate circumstances made players realize what being on a team was all about. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

While many spring seasons were cut short due to the coronavirus, the unfortunate circumstances made players realize what being on a team was all about. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Gigi Speer, Staff Writer

March 21. 

Waking up at 5:15 once a week for four months, I thought of March 21. Running up and down the bleachers on Coffey Field, I thought of March 21. Sweating our way through reps and situations, we thought of March 21. Every huddle of every practice, we thought of March 21. 

Taking my shoes off and putting them on the belt of JFK’s TSA checkpoint, it hit: “Wow. Last preseason tournament before March 21.” 

We lugged our duffel bags and our various equipment duties through the airport went through the metal detectors and reconvened on the other side of security. 

Some got food on their way, some sat waiting for everyone to finish with TSA, some laughed, some talked, some knew what was coming. 

Our coach circled us up and delivered the bad news. 

Some walked away, some hugged, some cried, some called their parents. Everybody was scared for it to get worse.

The tournament we were heading to in South Carolina was canceled, but we didn’t know what that meant for March 21. 

As we waited at baggage claim for the shortest ride our duffels had ever had on a plane, news started pouring out.

The Big 10 canceled their season. The Ivy League did the same. Various Division III schools ended their campaigns. 

We got back on the bus and returned to Fordham. Everyone went their own way, preparing to practice the next day to get as ready as possible for March 21. 

Our coach called yet another meeting a couple of hours later, and we headed to Rose Hill Gym. Looking out on the court, I remembered the sound of the whistle as we ground our way through conditioning. The echoes of teammates cheering each other on boomed in between my ears. Seeing my teammates sitting in the bleachers, I remembered cheering our basketball counterparts on and got butterflies in my stomach feeling the anticipation for our very own home game. 

Although the A-10 Conference had not announced anything, our coach said it didn’t look hopeful. My back was to the seniors, but I could feel the wave of heartbreak that rushed over them. This would have been their fourth and final season, their fourth and final A-10 tournament, their fourth and final conference play and their fourth and final March 21.

They had given it their all for the past seven months and had given it their all to secure our seventh A-10 Championship title last year. Their bodies, hearts and minds were anxious to play in our home opener. March 21. 

At that moment, that once-clear date seemed foggy.

However, nothing was final, and we were still waiting for the call from the A-10 representative. 

We decided to cope the best way we knew: pizza and ice cream. We laughed and had our usual fun walking up Arthur Avenue, and with our stomachs full we headed back to campus to do whatever we could to distract ourselves from the looming call.

We didn’t have to wait too long.

On Arthur Avenue, we learned the season was canceled. We learned we wouldn’t have a shot at keeping the seven-year streak going; we learned “2020” wasn’t an option. We learned the hard work for March 21 ended tonight. A week early. 

Fast-forward a week: our team is dispersed across the country, quarantining, staying safe and staying in touch. Instead of being on Bahoshy Field playing our rivals as we imagined, we were at home. We realized the severity of the situation, the scariness of the nation-sweeping coronavirus and the importance of our season being canceled. 

However, the early wake-ups, the sweat, the hard work and the anticipation weren’t for nothing. The inspiring quotes, the dedication, the inside jokes and the forever bonds won’t be taken away.

As we pray for everyone affected and try to mitigate the damage done by the virus, one lesson from the season stands out: do not take any at-bat, any fly ball, any game, practice or day for granted. Through our own personal hardships and the various tragedies from this year alone, the 2020 Fordham softball team had learned to be strong, to be together and to squeeze everything we could out of any opportunity. 

Although the idea of the grand home opener against our conference rivals got me out of bed in the mornings when it was still dark out, gave me an extra push as we maxed out in the weight room and forced me to be mentally tough in our three-hour practices, it was not the be-all and end-all. 

March 21 skipped by, even though it was a date I had been waiting for since getting our schedules in the fall. The excitement and gratitude I felt for this day evened out. 

On Arthur Avenue, with tears in our eyes, I took a step back and realized that the past seven months were for this. They were for the genuine appreciation for the game we all felt at that moment. They were for the love we felt for each other and for the sport that had gotten us this far. They were for every second I shared with my best friends and every new day we had to make it the best day yet.

Many of us are staying at home and may be lacking the motivation and drive we had because of the idea of March 21. Yet this tragedy is the biggest blessing of the year since we can treat every day like it is our big home opener. The gift of the present is what I will take away from the abrupt end to our season, and something I will think about every day I have on this Earth. 

But still, go Rams. Here’s to our eighth title, although it will come a year later than we thought.