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Senior student-athletes reflect on their short seasons

by Maddi Dolan

“I am absolutely heartbroken over the ending of my season. I don’t get another one. This is it,” said Bridget Maxwell, senior member of the Rowing team. “I have given so much of myself and have made so many sacrifices for this sport, and I don’t get proper closure.”

As the spring semester is winding down, many senior athletes at The University of Tampa are left disappointed with how their season ended. After the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) and National College Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled all spring competitions and championships back in early March due to COVID-19, seniors have had time to reflect on their athletic careers at UT. 

“My experience on the team was truly a life changing one. The sport and my teammates have made me a better woman, team player, and competitor over the past four years,” said Maxwell. 

After graduating with a nursing degree, Maxwell will be returning home to New Jersey to find work. As a nursing student, Maxwell said she understands the importance of social distancing and what is going on regarding COVID-19 from a healthcare standpoint, but she can’t help but feel angry over the abrupt ending to their season. 

“I was really looking forward to this season because I know my boat would have definitely come home with medals at many of our races,” said Maxwell. 

Maxwell had high hopes for the Women’s Rowing team this season. 

“I truly believe big things were going to happen for our team. Our varsity boats consisted of a Lightweight Four, a Heavyweight Four, and a Double. We also had a Novice Eight,” said Maxwell. “Despite being small in size, we have some really strong, athletic girls. I know overall our boats were better this year than in the past, and it’s disappointing that we weren’t able to bring our dreams to fruition.”

Ross Dickerson, senior midfielder and captain of the men’s lacrosse team, expected a different outcome for their season as well. The team was working towards the ultimate goal of winning a national championship. 

“Having the season end so suddenly is obviously disappointing. I think we could have gone all the way this year,” said Dickerson. “But, I couldn’t have been prouder of what we were able to accomplish as a team, it was an honor to lead as captain.” 

Dickerson was named Inside Men’s DII Player of the Year after leading the Spartans to an 8-0 record and being ranked third in the nation this season. 

While many senior players will not be returning to the field next season, Dickerson will be returning, as he is pursuing a graduate degree in entrepreneurship at UT in the fall. He spent his undergrad studying sport management and business administration. 

“I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to run it back one more year with a great group of guys. Hopefully we can take care of some unfinished businesses in 2021,” said Dickerson. 

Dickerson described his teammates as his second family, a group of men that helped him succeed both on and off the field. 

Kris Nelson, senior guard on the women’s basketball team, also said her teammates were like family. Nelson was the only senior on the women’s team this season. She was also named the NCAA National Statistical Champion this season. 

“It has truly been a blessing to play for Tampa,” Nelson said. “I have become a leader and much more.” 

Nelson studied criminal justice at UT, and will be heading into the military to become an officer after graduating. 

Nelson and her teammates were devastated by the news that their season had ended sooner than expected. Nelson, like many other student athletes, had no idea she had played the last game of her college career until it was already over. 

“It was very bitter to be honest. This was my last season and we were heading to the championships with all this talent,” Nelson said. “We all cried in the meeting room, especially since I was the last senior. It shouldn’t have ended that way.” 

Senior athletes all across the globe are left dissatisfied with the way their year ended. 

“I have been trying to see the silver lining in this and keep a positive mentality, but my whole life drastically changed over a couple of days. It’s definitely been a difficult process trying to cope with it all,” said Maxwell.

Maddi Dolan can be reached at maddilyn.dolan@spartans.ut.edu

 

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