Winning is always the focus for any sports team, but how can you win when the season is canceled? The Waynesburg University lacrosse team had to face this news when the coronavirus suddenly ended the 2020 season.
A group text made it official Mar. 17, ending the fun.
“It was very hard to relay the message through the group chat and not have a team meeting,” coach Gennaro Bonaventura said. “I wanted to have a team meeting, but I wasn’t allowed to because of traveling to the Chicago airport and Iowa, so I didn’t get to see the team before everyone left.”
Senior midfielder Bre Martini was in class when the text was sent. She recalls the nightmare scenario.
“It was like a feeling of helplessness because I knew that we had so much more to do,” she said. “It was heartbreaking that one text message had taken it all away. It’s frustrating that we won’t ever get to finish what we started. I hope that this year was a really good step in the right direction for the program.”
Bonaventura supported the team even without a team meeting.
“I told everyone on the team how much I appreciate them, and that I care about them, and if they need anything to reach out to me,” he said.
The inability to put an official end to the season was tough for the team.
“There was no time to say goodbye to anyone, and no time to get any closure,” Martini said. “I had no idea that it was my last time playing lacrosse ever.”
Even with the world turned upside down, Martini was able to find a clear perspective.
“It’s out of our hands so I’m trying to make the best of it and turn it into something positive and a lesson learned,” Martini said. “Maybe God wanted me to not take things in life for granted anymore. There is a lesson to everything in life, so I need to find the lesson in this.”
Bonaventura also reflected on the situation.
“You never know what can happen, and you never know when it is your last game,” he said. “You have to practice hard and play hard like it’s your last game.”
The Yellow Jackets had a historic start to the season, getting their first win in 46 games on February 23. The team earned a 7-5 victorywin on the road against Thomas More University.
The 2020 season was supposed to be different than recent years. Waynesburg was 1-1, and ready to shock teams around the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Martini notched three goals in the win at Thomas More.
Martini knew there was something different about the team before the season started.
“I think it is the closest the team has been in a while,” Martini said. “I think this year we had a special spark. We probably would have surprised some teams, but it’s just unfortunate.”
Bonaventura knew the season was in jeopardy while in Cedar Rapids Iowa for the Division III wrestling National Championships.
“I felt like it was just a matter of time,” Bonaventura said. “I was hearing rumors and reading reports that all the spring sports would be cancelled.”
Season cancellations were a terrible reality for schools across the country. The NCAA had already cancelled all future tournaments.
“I was driving back from Iowa to the Chicago airport when we got a notification from the PAC that the season was officially over,” Bonaventura said.
NCAA Division III officially ruled all spring athletes will receive another year of eligibility to make up for the lost season Mar. 13. Even though this seems like good news, it isn’t much news at all to most Division III athletes.
“It’s not really a reality because none of the players are on scholarships, and most have jobs unless they want to go to graduate school and go that route,” Bonaventura said.
This is true for Martini, who will graduate this spring.
“I wish we could all go back one more time and look at the field and the locker room again,” Martini said. “Now I’m just hoping that we have graduation. Hopefully I can see people that I didn’t get to say goodbye to.”