Senior outfielder Mariah Kalamaras leads off on second base during the Lumberjacks game against Sonoma State on Feb. 28, 2020 at HSU Softball Field. | Photo by Thomas Lal

Student Athletes Suffer Amid COVID-19 Cancellations

HSU student athletes share grief at abrupt endings
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HSU student athletes share grief at abrupt endings

Humboldt State University and the California Collegiate Athletic Association canceled sports for the spring semester back in March due to COVID-19. Student athletes have been left to deal with the aftermath.

Mariah Kalamaras is a graduating senior and a member of the HSU softball team. The softball season came to an end less than halfway through.

“This was my last season playing a sport that I truly love, and to have it cut short so abruptly is devastating,” Kalamaras said. “I felt like the world was ending.”

Following the NCAA’s decision to cancel winter and spring championships, the current sports landscape has been flat, with professional sports also forced to come to a halt. Fortunately for spring athletes, the NCAA will be granting eligibility relief, provided students remain enrolled while participating in athletics.

Sydney Oliver is a senior and captain of the HSU club cheer team. Although the basketball season had already wrapped, the cheer club would have continued to meet for practice through the end of the academic year.

“I have dreamt of walking across that graduation stage since I was a little kid.”

Sydney Oliver

“It’s kind of sad that I can’t see my teammates and help influence them to do better, as well for them to push me,” Oliver said. “Because we did a lot of working out together.”

Senior athletes were in for another disappointment when HSU also canceled the 2020 commencement ceremony. Kalamaras said she felt like she’s missing out on a rite of passage.

“I have dreamt of walking across that graduation stage since I was a little kid,” Kalamaras said. “To hear the song, wear the gown, to hear your name and to hold that diploma high into the air and say, ‘I did it! I made it.’ It makes all the sleepless nights, all the hard work on the long road trips, all the class time, and all the stress worth it.”

The shutdown has also had significant impacts on the daily lives of student athletes. Students have gone without school and sports—and work, for some—but they’re also encouraged to avoid gathering with friends to comply with social distancing.

“Now that it’s not an option to see them, it’s kinda like you wanna see them,” Oliver said. “As opposed to when it was an option and you could see them anytime, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’ll see them tomorrow.’”

“Since all of the classes are online, it’s basically on us, the students.”

Gabrys Sadaunykas

Students are also now forced to finish their semesters online. As a kinesiology major, Oliver wasn’t stressing the change.

“I like my subject, so it’s not hard for me to still be passionate about it,” Oliver said.

Other students are less enthusiastic about the shift online. Gabrys Sadaunykas is an international student from Lithuania and a basketball player at HSU.

“Since all of the classes are online, it’s basically on us, the students,” Sadaunykas said.

Although Sadaunykas’ season was already finished, he’s stuck here until the end of May.

“Of course, it’s hard, because all of my friends are back with their families and I’m here by myself basically,” Sadaunykas said. “But it’s a nice place. I like Humboldt—it’s got a lot of nature.”

Not for the reasons athletes were expecting, COVID-19 has created an unforgettable 2020 spring season.

“It has taken so much away and although I understand that this global shutdown is necessary, it doesn’t make it hurt any less,” Kalamaras said. “I won’t be able to play my sport at this high level ever again. I won’t get to walk across a stage to show the world I got my diploma. I don’t get to go out and experience all [of] this great place I have had the privilege to call home the past two years.”

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