Wildcats’ Season Cut Short Due to Coronavirus

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The Wildcats huddle around the mound on Saturday, February 29th, 2020.

Chase Whittaker, Sports Editor

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The recent spread of coronavirus has impacted the world in unprecedented ways. A group that has been affected especially hard is collegiate athletes. From seasons being canceled and seniors losing their chance to compete one last time collegiately, athletes have been struggling to find the light in this dark situation.

Coming into the 2020 season, the Linfield Wildcats softball team were not only projected to champion the Northwest Conference, but be serious contenders for the Division 3 National Title. Using the momentum they created in their title chase in 2019, the Wildcats were out for vengeance this season.

For the seven Wildcat seniors, Makenna Clizer, Brooke Snyder, Clarissa Wolfe, Jocie Newton, Chelsea Horita, Kory Oleson, and Kelsey Wilkinson — the dream of lifting the National Championship trophy was cut short due to state regulations placed in result of COVID-19.

The group expressed their initial reactions to the news of the season being cancelled, “I was obviously distraught about our season getting cancelled. A lot of us knew it was coming,” said Clizer. “This was one of the biggest heartbreaks I’ve gone through. I was so thankful to enjoy my last practice with my team.”

Similar to Clizer, both Snyder and Wolfe felt that it was a nice opportunity, but there are bigger things out for them beyond softball. “My initial reaction was that it couldn’t be real. It felt like a dream,”said Snyder. “I’ll never forget our coach telling us the news, looking around at my teammates, and we all started to cry and hug each other. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life.”

Amidst these harsh times, remembering moments with your team is one way to distract yourself from the news, “It is super hard to try to pick only one memory that stands out to me,” said Snyder. “But I would have to say I loved home games on our field this time of year and in May because it is so sunny and beautiful.”

The NCAA has decided to offer spring athletes who have missed out on their seasons an extra year of eligibility if they so choose. The difference between Division 1 and Division 3 athletes is that those in higher divisions are looking to improve their draft stock for professional development. In Division 3, while a professional career is possible, most athletes compete for their love of a sport and are mainly focused on their academic achievements.

All three of these seniors admitted to considering using that extra year of eligibility, but all of them are at a point in their lives where closing this chapter is the best option.

Clizer said she was “really pushed to consider staying another year and playing out her senior year,” but she has landed a job opportunity in Minnesota starting in June that will require her to be on-site for training. In her opinion, she feels it was time for her to begin her life in the real world.

“I didn’t consider it for too long… it wouldn’t be the same without my whole class returning. I didn’t want to put graduation off for another year and I have a job lined up for after graduation that I committed to,” said Wolfe.

For these seniors, Wildcat Softball has given them the opportunity to grow in a sport they have loved their whole lives, become part of a family and create memories that will last their whole lives.

Their season may have been cut short, but their legacy will continue on for years to come.

These seniors offered their advice to the next class of softball players, all of them said essentially the same thing- never hold anything back on the field. Treat every moment like it is your last and embrace the grind so you never regret anything when it is over.