The inevitable reality of ending a college athletic career

As senior student athletes take on their last year of study at Marist College they also take on their last college season of their athletic participation. To some, this idea is almost like an unwanted retirement because of how long sports have been in their lives, and to others this may be perfect timing.

Zach Reed, senior on the men’s soccer team states, “I knew this year would be my last so I approached every practice and game that way. I knew in doing that I would be able to accept the end a lot easier. I was depressed for about 24 hours but I was over it after that.”

The men’s soccer team ended their season in the MAAC quarterfinals on November 5, 2016. Soccer was the first sport at Marist, both men and women’s, to finish up their fall schedule compared to other in season sports. Ending a sports season regardless opens up a person’s schedule, but also fully finishing to some, means it’s out of their life completely. As Kiki told me, “I do not identify my self as a soccer player anymore. Whenever someone brings up the soccer team or anything like that I tell them I am not on the team and I am not an athlete because it is the truth.”

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A few members from the 2016 mens soccer team-Courtesy of Zach Reed’s Instagram

It’s interesting to note that what decides when these players essentially end their careers is when they lose in a MAAC final game. There is no set schedule and no prediction if a team will lose or not. As said by senior on the men’s soccer team Mario Vukadinovic, “The last game was pretty sad because I have met so many good people and have experienced so many good things through soccer and now it is over.”

Mario continued to discuss how the end is so bittersweet because he does have a newfound relaxation. One point he did talk about however, that many don’t think about is the fact that a lot of students have traveled from overseas for a Marist education and athletic experience. Ending this sport can mean a more extreme life change as he said, “I’m not so sad that soccer is done, I’m more sad that my time at Marist is coming to an end and that I will have to say goodbye to all my good friends and move back to Europe.”

Another aspect in an athlete’s final career is the idea of the demand of participating in a sport for so long. Playing in college is definitely unlike any other sporting experience prior in a student’s life because of the immense time commitment, physical commitment, and mental commitment it entails. For this reason many players seemed to have more of relief of it being over than expected, as Mario told me, “Due to all the injuries I had in my college career I don’t plan on stepping on the field ever again (Besides playing pick up with friends).”

Senior, JD Recor on the men’s lacrosse team agreed with this idea when he said, “It definitely is different than in the past, I get a lot more treatment on my body like ice baths to recover better to be 100%. As far as lifting, I tend to train really hard so my body can better withstand a full season.”

When talking to JD Recor, I got a different perspective because he hasn’t even started his final season yet. The Marist lacrosse season starts in January 2017, and JD and his teammates have many hopes for the season ahead.

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A few of the current seniors after their 2015 MAAC Championship game.

“A seniors we all talk about how crazy it is that we are in our last year together, and we are really enjoying our time together but we have worked incredibly hard to go out on top this spring.”

As an athlete that has been playing Lacrosse for 11 years of his life, it’s hard to believe that this would soon be over. “I will miss the game day atmosphere at Tenney Stadium, there’s really no place like it in college lacrosse and I’ve enjoyed that the most as an athlete here.”

It’s clear that there is a mutual feeling between athletes who have finished their season or are headed into the last, that it is something crazy to wrap their minds around. Playing a sport is a career, and unfortunately careers do end. Like all seniors it’s so hard to say goodbye to a college experience, but for athletes this may seem so much more than just a goodbye. The commitment and dedication to athletics players have spent for a good portion of their lives seems to come to a sudden halt. This not only makes players more appreciative of what they have experienced competitively, but also enables them to move forward with their lives with a newfound freedom and an unforgettable past experience.

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