The winter season is in full swing as each and every athlete focuses in on his/ her craft.
However, for seniors, it will be their last time practicing, last time competing and last time representing the Keene State College Owls. As each game goes by, the reality of their season coming to a close becomes more apparent and the importance of ending their career on a good note is evident.
Margaret Dean, a senior on the women’s swim and dive team, said that it hasn’t really hit her yet that this is her last year at KSC.
Dean said so far, it feels very stressful and that there is a ton of pressure to be on her A-game, as well as setting a good example once she steps in and out of the pool.
“I feel like I have a little extra pride in everything I do,” Dean said.
She said that over the years she has gotten stronger and faster, and that among setbacks she found that looking at the small series of accomplishments always revived her faith in the sport she loves.
“Balancing the fear and joy of this being my last year of college is one of the bigger struggles I face,” Dean said.
However, these four years have taught Dean a valuable lesson. “Freshman year I would say my success was defined by my times, but now I would say my success is in knowing I gave one hundred percent effort in all aspects of personal well being,” Dean said.
Senior Rachel MacKinnon, also a member of the women’s swim and dive team, said that the feeling is bittersweet. “I can’t believe it sometimes. I feel like I just started here,” MacKinnon said. MacKinnon said being a senior is a perk because she can help lead the team.
As a captain of the swim team, MacKinnon said seeing the growth in the team that she leads is something she always cherishes.
“I get to the lead the team and the fact that it’s my last go-around is hard. After this season is over, my swim career, which I’ve had since eight, will be ending. It’s a thing that I love and it’s soon time to let it go,” MacKinnon said.
Although coming to the end of something can be challenging, MacKinnon said that when it gets tough and you think about quitting, don’t. “These are your last years so enjoy them and just push through whatever obstacle you have, it will be worth it in the end.”
Dominique Pascoal, a senior on the women’s track and field, described the feeling of being a senior the same way Mackinnon did.
“It’s bittersweet. Definitely ready to graduate, but there is something in the air that is distasteful. I feel like it’s the beginning of the end… or the end of the beginning,” Pascoal said.
Coping with the chaos can be difficult, but Pascoal said you have to ask yourself how bad you want this, because it’s not only a commitment to yourself, it’s a commitment to your entire team, your coach, your fans, everyone. Pascoal added, “Most importantly, be able to find the fun in whatever you do. Because if you can’t, you shouldn’t be doing it.”
Hope Walsh, senior on the women’s swim and dive team,described facing senior year as difficult and often having two sides.
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel real. I am either in denial, or it just hasn’t hit me yet. Maybe I will realize it’s actually happening when the summer is ending and I figure out I am not coming back to Keene. But I am one of those seniors [who] isn’t ready for it to end. I have found you either want it to end and are ready for it, or are sad and not ready. It’s nerve wracking, really. Exciting but intimidating,” Walsh said.
She said that the hardest part is that she is just not ready for it to end. Walsh added that swimming has been her identity for so long and she doesn’t know what she will do without it.
“When I meet new people that know my family, I say yes, I am the swimmer. But now, what will I say? I won’t be ‘the swimmer’ in the family for much longer. And I know it doesn’t sound that important or meaningful, but after you have heard and been asked the same question for years, it means something. I know I will miss it. It’s like part of my identity is just not gonna be there anymore, and I will struggle with that,” Walsh said. Alexandra McCafferty said that being a senior is scary and that it is a host of emotions because she doesn’t know exactly what the future holds after KSC.
Juggling academics and sports is a never-ending cycle that takes focus the desire to succeed, McCafferty said, but everything is manageable if you truly want it.
Caroline Perry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org