John Xu ’22 Sports Editor
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the largest athletic event in the world, was scheduled to take place this summer. On March 24, amid increasing pressure from athletes worldwide, the International Olympics Committee along with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that the event will now take place in the summer of 2021. This will be the first postponement of the Olympics since the two World Wars.
Major sporting events across the world have been affected. The Euro 2020 football tournament, another highly anticipated event held in twelve countries in Europe, has been delayed until 2021. Other large events such as the World Rugby Sevens, the Masters golf tournament, and the Wimbledon tennis tournament have all similarly been canceled or rescheduled.
On a national scale, the NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert announced his diagnosis with coronavirus. Gobert was criticized for making light of the health crisis by pulling pranks on social media and touching the reporter’s microphones during a media event just days before his illness. The WNBA postponed its season and has decided to hold its annual draft virtually. The Boston Marathon, one of the nation’s oldest sporting events, instead of running this month, will occur five months from now in September.
Amid the crisis, how have sports at Mercersburg Academy been affected? More specifically, how are Blue Storm coaches and athletes adjusting to the college recruiting process during this time?
For many Mercersburg athletes, the cancellation of this season not only means missing the chance to play their favorite sport but also losing the opportunity to be seen by colleges. This season was especially important to Jake Ahlgren ’21, a starter on the varsity baseball team. “I emailed a good amount of coaches and gave them my spring schedule,” Ahlgren says, ”Honestly, I was hoping this season would get me out there more because we have almost no game film from last year.” Ahlgren was looking forward to the baseball season to capture in-game footage and display his talents to coaches.
Elizabeth Kendrick ’21 started playing lacrosse in her freshman year at Mercersburg and had an impressive six-fold increase in goals by her sophomore year. She believes the cancellation of lacrosse season will have a huge impact on her recruiting process. “It’s going to be challenging to continue to demonstrate my improvement without my junior year season.” Like Ahlgren, Kendrick lost her chances to play in front of college scouts, as many of her showcases this summer have been postponed and canceled. Still, she believes right now is the time for her to improve on her lacrosse skills, focus on academics, and communicate with coaches.
Kendrick suggests that there is a silver lining in this situation. She says, “With college coaches having their own season canceled, the only thing they’re focused on right now is recruiting. This actually presents a lot of opportunities. “ She offers advice to the student-athletes, “Coaches are looking to fill spots, with not only talented players but with hard-working players. One of the best things recruits can be doing is reaching out to coaches, introducing themselves, sending previous stats, and sending films of them practicing on their own.”
Finally, Kendrick is taking a different approach to confronting this issue by stressing the “student” in “student-athlete.” She says, “My recruiting process has never just been about the game, rather continuing something I love at a good academic school. So if all else fails there is always club!“
Mercersburg’s boys lacrosse head coach, Tim Kerr, finds that navigating the recruiting process during this time is extremely difficult as the virus is hard to predict. As hard as it is to accept, the senior season and summer events for lacrosse are jeopardized. Right now, Kerr is trying to reach out to colleges to see if seniors can take a PG year at Mercersburg.
Aakash Koduru ’20, an avid all-season runner, shares his thoughts on the cancellation of spring track, “It’s been tough for me without spring track because I really miss being with my team and competing. That’s always been my favorite part about running and it feels really weird to not have it right now.” Koduru will be taking his aptitude in running to the collegiate level; he made the decision to commit to Swarthmore before spring break. Although his recruiting process was not affected, this was not the way Koduru wanted his spring season to end.
The pandemic has impacted younger athletes as well. Monique Garcia ‘22, sophomore pitching talent on the varsity softball team, is not considering taking her talents to the collegiate level just yet. Garcia explained that although she is not as directly affected as her older peers, every athlete who plays a team sport is hindered by the shut down. Garcia says, “Because I no longer have a team to play with, my practice is gonna be solely based on my own effort and dedication.”