It’s a year that links your early education days to the real world; a year that sparks interest in a future career path and perhaps a year that allows one to look back and reminisce about the past.
Realizing it is senior year in college hits various emotions for all students. For athletes, it is no different but it adds a different perspective.
Take a four-year varsity athlete at Keene State College into account.
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Since entering KSC, imagine the achievements on and off the field, lessons learned from coaches, fellow teammates and mentors and most importantly, how those lessons were set into the young minds of the athlete and instilled in their life.
Now focus on one night: Senior night, a night where those achievements, countless hours of sweat and concentration while going to class and living a college life, all surround one game.
Almost all athletic programs at Keene State College have one game dedicated to their graduating class where the player and their family are honored for their hard work, support and dedication.
Brittany Croteau is a senior on the women’s soccer team. Along with three other players, Croteau was honored on her senior night, which ended in an eventual loss to Western Connecticut after the final whistle.
However, for Croteau the emotions haven’t flown from her body as much as she had thought at this point in her career.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Croteau said about leaving the program after her four years.
That very night when her name was called over the PA system at Owl Stadium, Croteau, who was escorted by her parents Gary and Kim, said that the emotion of the night was overwhelming.
“Our teammates decorated the locker room and after walking through the huddle hearing out names announced, it didn’t hit me,” Croteau said.
“Until after the game I didn’t realize that it potentially could be my last game.”
Croteau plans to keep soccer in her life by either coaching or using her exercise science major to condition players.
Just a few weeks earlier, the men’s soccer program had their senior night at Owl Athletic Complex. Senior Blake Nyman said that being a senior is just sad.
“At this level of competition and being a D-III athlete, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to play after college,” Nyman said.
“It was definitely an emotional game, emotional night,” Nyman said about senior night. “It puts things into reality for you because everything is so surreal. You don’t realize how fast your four years are going to go by.”
Nyman isn’t the only senior who mentioned how quickly time has flown.
Senior Kalin Billert of the KSC field hockey team transferred from Westfield State University after her freshman year. Billert has been playing field hockey for eleven years and to have it all wind down to the end, Billert has mixed feelings.
“It feels weird,” Billert said in regards to growing up.
Billert added, “Even sophomore year, it feels like it was just yesterday.”
Billert’s twin sister Alex also plays for the Owls but has been with KSC Field Hockey since the beginning of her college career. “Having my parent’s step foot on the turf on senior night was really special,” Kalin Billert said. “They have a five hour commute to every home game but they still make it here. I don’t know what they are going to do next fall.”
As it has been previously mentioned, most, but not all athletic programs have a senior game.
Cross country is an example of a sport who doesn’t have a specific race or day that is solely dedicated to the seniors.
Runner Thomas Paquette, a member of the Little East Conference All-Academic team, said that it felt like yesterday when he looked up to the seniors as a young freshman.
“Time flies, I’m kind of in shock,” Paquette said.
Paquette added, “I was just a freshman admiring the seniors for leadership and guidance. Knowing that I’m in that role, it’s kind of mind-boggling that amount of time has passed.”
“Also, knowing this is my last season, I’m trying to make every race, every practice and every time I’m with the team count,” Paquette said.
For senior athletes as a whole, whether it be their last race, meet, game or a moment alone on their playing surface, most agree that all of their time and effort put into their sport will benefit their future.
“Whether it be running or school,” Paquette said. “I know I have more to give and I use it to drive me to better my future.”
Although their Keene State College career has come to an end, most KSC athletes won’t forget their careers here. Some alumni even come back to join the coaching staff.
Brian Schnee can be contacted