The term athlete may be just a word to some, but for others it is who they are.
For Keene State College senior athletes, it is no different.
Most student athletes have been playing their sports since a young age, with the push from friends and family members.
“I started playing [softball] when I was eight years old because my neighbor played and then I started pitching when I was in third grade,” senior softball pitcher Mariah Crisp said.
The school year is winding down in both academics and athletics, and this means that students are beginning to realize that the one thing that has been constant in their lives may be changing forever.
Lacrosse attack Kaitlin Nolan said, “I have been playing for so long, and my sister influenced me when I was young to start playing [lacrosse]”.
When athletes have identified themselves with a sport for so long, it can be difficult to imagine a life without it.
“I still have a lot of goals I want to meet this season and you have to get into the mental mindset that this will be your last time,” Nolan said.
For division 3 athletes, the demand may not be as high, but these athletes are still expected to dedicate a large portion of their time into their sports.
“I devote ten months to pitching a year, my life has always been about softball,” Crisp said.
Now that seniors are looking ahead, they have to think about whether or not they will try to continue playing their sport after graduation.
Senior left-handed pitcher Keith Simpson said, “I don’t think that I will be able to play in an actual league after graduation, so I will work even harder this season.”
As for Nolan, she said, “I probably won’t play but I can see myself coaching.”
The student athletes receive much support from families, friends and especially coaches.
“My coach [Katie Arsenault] is so supportive and has been that way throughout all of my fours years at KSC,” Nolan said.
The coaches act as a stable ground for these athletes during their time at Keene State.
“She has not treated me any different from my first year to now, but has higher expectations now that I’m a senior,” Nolan added.
Some athletes take time to reflect on the thought of their last season, but others said they feel it is almost better to not think about it.
“I try not to think about it; it goes so fast,” Simpson said.
While it is their last season, these three athletes agreed that they need to stay focused and keep their eyes on having a successful season, and hopefully win a championship.
“The ultimate goal would be to give one last go at it and get an LEC championship,” Simpson said.
Not only are these three seniors separating from their sport, they are separating from a team that has become their family.
“Leaving the team is definitely going to be hard, they’re my forever friends, so I know I will be in touch with them after graduation,” Nolan said.
With spring sports just beginning and winter sports coming to a close at KSC, these seniors had a moment to reflect back on what advice they would give to first-year.
They all agreed not to rush it, because it will be over in an instant.
“I would say, soak it all in, because everyone says time flies, and they’re right,” Simpson said.
Mary can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org