In the wake of COVID-19, many athletes around the world are having to say an early goodbye to not only their season, but in some cases their team, and for some their athletic careers. For spring sport athletes, this is the heartbreaking reality.
Robert Suhr and Bailey Strecker, two of Oklahoma Christian University’s athletes, are dealing with the aftershock of their seasons being canceled.
Suhr is a junior finance major and pitcher for Oklahoma Christian’s baseball team. Strecker is a senior and plays third base for the Eagles’ softball team. Both players had over a month left in their season, and with both players having high hopes for their seasons, the cancellation is a cruel reality.
Strecker said the entire softball team had high hopes for what they could achieve heading into the end of the season this year.
“Everyone had high expectations for this season,” Strecker said. “Starting in Las Vegas with good competition and playing well opened everyone’s eyes and shows us just how good we really could be. Everyone on the team believed we had a good shot in the Lone Star Conference and a very good chance at making, if not hosting, a regional tournament.”
As a senior, the news of the cancellation hit Strecker hard, but she acknowledged the difficulty of the decision and understands why it had to be made.
“I feel the same as every senior student-athlete; I am absolutely devastated,” Strecker said. “On the other hand, I understand how hard the decision was to make, and it was made in order to protect all student-athletes. I understand the rationale behind the decision, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”
While Strecker understands the situation, she says she will always miss the camaraderie she and her teammates shared.
“I am going to miss the camaraderie of my teammates the most,” Strecker said. “Always having someone be there for you and having a group of people who have your back no matter what are bonds that will never be broken.”
Suhr said the news of the cancellation hit the baseball team hard, and it came at a time where the team was starting to get into a groove.
“The response was different for a lot of guys,” Suhr said. “The hardest part looking back was the timing of the whole thing. We just started getting hot as a team, and everyone was feeling really good going into the Eastern New Mexico series. When we were told after practice we would be suspended for a while and most likely the season was over a lot of guys were just speechless. It didn’t seem real. There was a group of us that just went and sat in the dugout together to spend as much time at the field as we could.”
Suhr wanted his teammates who played their last game to know he is sorry and hurts for them.
“I just want to say to all my teammates that may have played their last game; I am truly sorry for the way it ended,” Suhr said. ”It is not fair to any athlete to have their career ended like this. I hope the best for each and every one of you.”
Strecker said she wants people to know even though the regular season may be canceled, the softball team is still pursuing their scrimmage against the U.S. National Team.
“We were scheduled to play the U.S. National team on April 21,” Strecker said. “Since the ending of our season, Coach Hays has been in contact with Team USA, and they would still like to play on a later date in order to prepare for the Olympics, which has also been postponed.”