Binghamton University student-athletes deal with sudden end of sports seasons
For Binghamton University lacrosse team captain Dan Mottes ’20, one word describes the days before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the spring sports seasons: ominous.
“I think most people had a sense that the season would not be played out in its fullest, but that we would at least have one or two more games,” Mottes says. “There’s always something different about going into a game knowing it could be your last and the emotions associated with it. We thought that we would have the chance to play out our last game on our terms — unfortunately the circumstances didn’t allow for that.”
Mottes was one of many Binghamton University student-athletes whose collegiate careers came to an end in March when the America East Conference stopped play in baseball, softball, tennis, golf, lacrosse, and track and field. The conference also postponed all fall sports; it has not been determined if and when they will take place.
Baseball player Greg Satriale ’20 recalls being in “disbelief” at the spring-sports decision.
“Reality didn’t kick in until everyone was packing up their rooms and guys started heading home,” says Satriale, who pitched and played the infield during his four seasons with the Bearcats. “That was when I realized: ‘Wow, I’m never going to play another baseball game again for Binghamton.’ To the same effect, I realized that I was not going to be able to spend time with my team any longer. That is really what hit the most.”
Shortly after the season cancellations, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to student-athletes in spring sports. Softball catcher Sara Herskowitz ’20 jumped at the opportunity, as she had already been accepted into the Master of Public Health program at Binghamton University’s Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Herskowitz is one of 10 student-athletes to return to Binghamton for an additional spring season.
“It seemed like we had so much going for us one day, and the next day we were stripped of the life we were accustomed to living during the time period we were in,” she says. “It hit me that we wouldn’t get a final game on our home field or get a chance to host the America East tournament. … Luckily, I have gotten the opportunity to have one more year playing softball at Binghamton.”
Satriale and Mottes, meanwhile, had accepted post-graduation jobs with Bank of America and PJT Partners, respectively.
“By the time seniors were granted eligibility, my decision was already made,” Satriale says. “As badly as I would have wanted to come back to be with my teammates and coaches for another year, I knew that I could not pass up on the opportunity to begin my career.”
Mottes, an America East 2020 Presidential Scholar-Athlete who played in all 50 Bearcat games over the past four seasons, admits that it was hard to step away from lacrosse.
“I’ve encountered incredible coaches and teammates along the way that have taught me unforgettable lessons about integrity, loyalty, leadership and competition,” he says. “I thought that it was the right time to take those lessons and apply them to a career.”
COVID-19 did not just affect spring student-athletes, though. Redshirt sophomore Lou DePrez was preparing for the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Minneapolis when the tournament was canceled.
DePrez had just captured the 184-pound title in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships and was seeded fourth in the NCAA event.
“I wasn’t surprised, but I was just bummed out I didn’t complete the season on my terms,” says DePrez, who was looking to become the University’s first Division I wrestling champion. “The national championship is the reason why everyone wrestles to begin with. For it to be cut short when we put in so much hard work during the season is very disappointing.”
DePrez is optimistic and prepared to make history in the upcoming season.
“I’ve been blessed with the life I have been given,” he says. “I’m healthy, have a loving family and a great team at my back. As for the 2020-21 season, I will be ready to win a national title.”
Herskowitz, Satriale and Mottes all emphasized the importance of team camaraderie on and off the field during their time at Binghamton University.
“Over four years you end up playing with different teammates, all from different backgrounds, with different experiences that bring different perspectives and skills to the table,” Mottes says. “I always enjoyed serving alongside my teammates and being put in those stressful situations where you’re forced to rely on each other to get the job done. The relationships I’ve developed with some of the people I’ve played with are a direct result of having to struggle through hardship by locking arms with each other and pushing through whatever situation we faced.”