Concordia transfers welcomed to Linfield

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Maddie Loverich

Softball’s Kira Sneddon and Lydia Goss

Kate Walkup, Staff Writer

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The abrupt closure of Concordia University in Portland left students stunned on a Monday morning last February. For a few, not only their academic career but also their athletic career seemed like it had been taken from them without any warning. 

Former Concordia student-athletes Isabelle Davis, Lydia Dillon, Maddie Serafini and Kira Sneddon awoke to a confusing mass text that went out to the entire school about a mandatory meeting. The news of the school closing due to financial instability came as a shock to these four student-athletes. Questions immediately sprung into their heads. What would the next step in their college careers look like? Uncertainty fell upon them as their minds spun trying to fathom the information they had just received. 

After completing two years of prerequisite courses at Chemeketa Community College, Sneddon had been committed to play softball at Concordia for the 2020-21 academic year while pursuing a degree in exercise science. “My coach texted me one day and I had already signed the papers and was going to send them to her, and she said they were closing down,” said Sneddon. All of her hard work, dedication and preparation to play at the next level seemed worthless. Her mind was like a flood of emotions, Sneddon had no idea what the future might hold. 

“I wanted to be set on a school by January so when our season came, I was just focused on playing my last season at Chemeketa,” said Sneddon. Little did she know, this last season would be canceled just several weeks later due to COVID-19. After digesting the news, Sneddon began to search for another school where she could continue her academic and athletic careers. By June, she had decided to attend Linfield University and play softball for Jackson Vaughan, the softball coach at Linfield for the past 19 seasons. 

After practicing with the Linfield team for a couple of weeks this fall, Sneddon feels like she has already found a family and enjoys how intense and structured their practices are. Despite her being a transfer junior, Sneddon noted how welcoming and encouraging the team has been toward her. 

From Division I to Division II to Division III, junior Lydia Dillon has experienced the softball student-athlete experience from many different perspectives. After attending and playing softball for Boise State her freshman year, Dillon knew something needed to change. Concordia seemed like the whole package. She received impressive scholarships, allowing her to pursue a degree in nursing, continue to play softball and live at home. Subconsciously, Dillon suspected she was going to wake up from this perfect dream eventually. 

“We had just gotten back from an 11-day trip and got a text from the president of Concordia,” Dillon said. “I wasn’t even going to go to the meeting because I had an interview for a scholarship…I walked in and the vibe was really off.” The announcement that the school was closing made her feel sick to her stomach. No one knew this was coming. “My coaches were completely blindsided too,” she said. “They had no idea.”

Panic overcame her at first. Dillon knew she wanted to find a local nursing school that would accept her prerequisite courses. Finally, she found her third home at Linfield. “I’m always nervous coming in [to a new program] because I never know what to expect and it’s always different. I didn’t really know how accepting people were, or how much room they have on the team,” Dillon said. “I don’t want to take anyone’s spot or step on anyone’s toes or cause problems. I just want to come and I want to play and I want to have fun, and I feel like this is definitely a place where I can do that.” 

On that same Monday morning in February, the women’s soccer team at Concordia had just finished their early practice. Sophomore Davis and junior Serafini sat with their team in the locker room not knowing the information that their coach was about to dump on them. As their coach came in, tears were streaming down his face. The team still did not know what had happened, and they were confused because everything had seemed completely normal the previous day. Their coach had been recruiting like usual and did not realize that would be his last time scouting out players to better the soccer program at Concordia. 

Soccer’s Isabelle Davis and Maddie Serafini (Kate Walkup)

“It all happened really fast and because of the time, recruitment is already done at that point, all schools have already given all of their money away,” said Davis. The search to find another school that would fit all of their criteria seemed difficult in and of itself since it was so late in the year. To make matters worse, they did not expect the next curveball that would be thrown at them just several weeks later. Some of their teammates had recruiting visits lined up, but they were canceled due to COVID-19. Finally, both Davis and Serafini decided to make Linfield their new home. 

After arriving a week early to start training, Davis and Serafini have already fallen in love with the training style of the team. They acknowledged how hardworking all of their new teammates are and enjoy how much everyone cares about the game. While the NCAA has not yet made an announcement on when sports will have their seasons, Davis and Serafini are keeping their heads up and making the most out of what they can control. “I think it makes it kind of fun because you don’t feel the pressure of having to learn so much in such a short period of time,” Davis said. “You have more time to get to know everyone before you start playing with them which is something that fall sports don’t get because you get a week and then you’re playing your first game. It’s been really nice to actually get to know everyone and get the team bond before we have to step on the field where it really matters.” 

Despite the uncertainties that lie ahead, these four student-athletes have embraced what they can control and have made the most of their first few weeks at Linfield. Both soccer and softball seasons are scheduled to resume in the spring if the pandemic remains under control, but that decision is in the hands of the NCAA. Through attitude, togetherness and determination, the four transfer athletes will continue to grow not only as players but also as individuals.