THE BEAR - Senior athletes who have completed their final seasons are finding that once they leave the comfortable sweat-soaked cocoon, there’s no going back.
The symptoms of athletic withdrawal can be devastating. Sarah Lopez, a former cross-country runner, bemoaned, “I feel so lonely and isolated without my team all around me. We always used to finish each other’s…” Here she paused, but nobody chimed in.
Harry Cho, formerly of the men’s soccer team, also experiences difficulty with the separation. “Yesterday I went to the Bear to work out to forget my sadness, and it worked at first, but as soon as I stepped into that shower alone the echoing emptiness was just devastating. And then I got lost walking to the JRC. I guess for the past four years I’ve been just been following the pack, so I never actually learned anything for myself.”
Faculty members report that recovering athletes can be disruptive in classes. “When they’re in season, it’s easy for the football players to scratch their sportive itch,” explained economics professor Chad Zimmer. “But now whenever one of them answers a question wrong in class they’ll jump out of their chair and run a lap of campus as self- punishment.”
Some of the coping mechanisms that the seniors have been using can be very public. “Honestly, the only thing that really made sense was to plaster the loggias with screenshots from our team’s inside jokes on Snapchat,” insisted former women’s soccer team member Alice O’Reilly. “It’s our way of providing concrete evidence that for the past four years, we have eaten, slept, and laughed as a family. As long as these pictures are publicly available, nobody can deny our experience.”
For others, simple physical contact with a relic of their athletic past can provide the comfort they need. “I carry a volleyball with me wherever I go,” explained Misty Roberts, formerly of the women’s volleyball team. “I got a signed letter from my coach—I mean, my ex- coach,” she said, choking back a sob, “so that I could take it to class. It’s actually the ball from the game where we almost beat Carleton. Good times.”
To ease the transition, the College’s athletic training staff has developed a program intended to gradually decrease the seniors’ reliance on all things sports. “Our most successful initiative to date has been our team-breaking series,” boasted trainer Monica Murray. “The purpose is to allow teammates to show one another that they no longer have unconditional support, through activities such as Mistrust Falls, in which everyone gets dropped, and Anonymous Insults, where people express their true feelings. It’s been great—the men’s cross-country team is hardly speaking to one another anymore!”
But despite their struggles, the ex-athletes maintain empathy toward their peers. Said former football player Brett Sykes, “While this is hard for us, I imagine it must be devastating to our fans.”