The Patriot League Council of Presidents announced on March 12 that all spring sports will be cancelled for the remainder of the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In doing so, many in-season senior athletes had their college careers cut short. In the initial reactions of senior athletes such as Jack Martin-Dyer, Andrew Pettit, and Alex Ladda, they described shock, disbelief and speechlessness.
Martin-Dyer, the only senior on the men’s tennis team, had compiled a 6-2 singles record primarily at the No. 6 spot. The men’s tennis team was 5-5 before Martin-Dyer and his teammates learned that the season would be suspended.
“It still doesn’t feel real to me,” Martin-Dyer said. “We had put in all the work but never got an opportunity to prove it.”
Martin-Dyer, as well as fifth-year men’s lacrosse player, Andrew Pettit, have felt the effects of how devastating an abrupt end to their season could bring.
Pettit suffered a torn ACL his senior season, which played an important role in his decision to return for his fifth year “to finish what he had started at Lehigh” — something he no longer has the opportunity to do.
Pettit said he will not be returning to Lehigh, but hopes to find an opportunity to play in either the Premier Lacrosse League or Major League Lacrosse this summer. He said he hopes his athletic career is not done yet.
“I am proud of my five years at Lehigh competing with all my teammates and, regardless of how my career ended, I will be proud of all of our hard work,” Pettit said.
Martin-Dyer believes he has one more year of NCAA eligibility and, with the opportunity to receive the Presidential Scholarship, he may return for a fifth year.
“However, I do have a job lined up for after graduation, so that would be put in jeopardy,” Martin-Dyer said. “There are also numerous hoops I need to jump through if I am able to return to Lehigh, such as grad school admittance and making sure I’m eligible to play as a grad student.”
Martin-Dyer said he does not want to allow the coronavirus, the cause of his final season’s premature ending, to mark his final goodbye to the men’s tennis team.
He said that tennis, and particularly Lehigh tennis, has helped define his identity.
Martin-Dyer added that even if he doesn’t return to Lehigh, he appreciates the people he has gotten to know over his four years competing.
“Regardless of if I return or not, I will always have my coaches, my teammates, everything they taught me and all the memories we shared,” Martin-Dyer said. “That is more valuable than anything to me.”
Alexandra Ladda, a senior defender on the women’s lacrosse team, is also feeling uncertain about her future in athletics.
Although most spring athlete seniors did not have a final sendoff, the women’s lacrosse team found a way to have an unofficial ceremony.
“While we didn’t have an official send-off, my coaches and teammates put together a last-minute senior appreciation day,” Ladda said.
While the situation is not ideal, Ladda and the rest of the seniors appreciated the gesture put on by the team’s members, she said.
“Given the circumstances, it was really everything I could have asked for, and I know it meant a lot to all the seniors,” Ladda said.
While the end of collegiate athletics can be bittersweet for many athletes, having a final season end in the midst of a global pandemic is not the sendoff senior Lehigh athletes expected.