By: Grace Kelly (Athletic Communications Student Assistant)
Every college student dreams of the moment that all of their hard work pays off: walking across the stage and receiving their degree in front of friends and family. Unfortunately, this dream did not come true for many, as the Class of 2020 celebrated through a virtual Commencement ceremony at the end of May.
No one saw this coming. There was no way to predict that a pandemic would sweep the globe and interrupt our lives in the way it did. One thing is for sure: the Spring 2020 semester did not go as planned. No one was prepared to move off-campus, away from friends. No one was prepared for the transition to online learning. The Class of 2020 was not prepared for their time as Goucher students to end this way.
When a student-athlete thinks of the moments that make playing a college sport so great, they often think of things like winning against rivals, earning a spot on the starting lineup, or pulling out an overtime victory. Student-athletes can also look forward to senior day, celebrating four years of blood, sweat, and tears with teammates and family. On top of all the loss, the pandemic also took senior day from our seniors on the men's and women's lacrosse, track and field, and tennis teams. It is for all of these reasons that this year's class of seniors, both athletes and non-athletes, is unique and will be remembered for years to come.
But there's more to the Class of 2020 than the losses.
"They've been my dancing partners, locker buddies, classmates, shoulders to cry on, lifting partners, and so so much more," says rising senior Rylee McDonnell. The women's soccer team celebrates the accomplishments of graduates Gracie LeFevre, Dani Sweet, and Rebecca Hallameyer. "I can't even imagine my time at Goucher without these girls."
One thing to recognize in McDonnell's heartfelt words about her teammates: these three girls have made an impact on her, as well as the rest of her teammates, that goes far beyond the soccer field, and each in their own special way.
McDonnell is inspired by LeFevre's work ethic and positive attitude, as well as Hallameyer's duel dedication to academics and athletics. Sweet's personality has made a unique mark on McDonnell and the team:
"Dani has taught me how to be a loyal friend and how to stay positive and have fun during the toughest situations. She's tried to teach me how to let loose and dance in the locker room, but sadly I don't think I've mastered that one."
McDonnell shared a message that she wanted her seniors to hear: "To my seniors, teammates, but more importantly, my friends: you ladies have impacted me more than you know. I can't wait to see where your lives take you, but I want you to know that you'll always have a place back at Goucher. I love you all and I'm counting the days until I can see your smiling faces again."
Rising junior Angad Ahluwalia of the men's basketball team has played alongside Pat Goralski and Dwayne Morton for the last two years. Ahluwalia expresses that these two graduates have pushed him to work harder and get better on and off the court.
"Wayne led by example and Pat was our vocal and defensive leader," says Ahluwalia. "In practice, we all raised our level because Pat treated every rep like it was his last one and he gave it his all every time he was on the court. Wayne lead us by taking and making the big shot at so many points this season and always being vocal when it came to us messing up and getting better."
The men's basketball team, according to Ahluwalia, has become a tight-knit family; much of this is due to the contributions that Goralski and Morton made to the program.
"Wayne and Pat have been a huge part of my growth at Goucher and they have been incredible leaders to me on and off the court. They will definitely be missed and I'm grateful to have been their teammates for two years."
Our fall and winter athletes were able to play an entire season of sports during the 2019-2020 school year. The men's lacrosse team was in the middle of a game on March 11 when it was announced that Goucher College would be extending spring break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This game would soon become their last game of the season, and the last game of four seniors' careers.
"The seniors on our team have had a huge impact on us this year," says rising junior Jared Halverson. "They set a great example for us all with what it meant to be a teammate and a good person. Without our seniors, I feel like we would have been a little lost, not really knowing what needed to be done to achieve our goals."
Andrew Sade, Nick Patterson, Alex Shields, and Matt Woodson made an unforgettable exit from the men's lacrosse program, winning their final game in overtime against Neumann. This, according to Halverson, would not have been possible without the impact that these graduates had on the program.
"We had a little trouble with chemistry and working together last year, but they really stepped up and brought us together. They made us come together as a family every time we stepped into the weight room or onto the field."
The four men's lacrosse graduates have inspired and motivated Halverson to be a better player, teammate, and person, both on and off the field. "I hope to be close to the kind of people our seniors are, setting a good example in all aspects of life, and bringing the team together as a family and pushing us to work harder together to achieve a goal we could not individually."
The women's lacrosse team played their final game on March 10, winning against Notre Dame. Gabrielle Umstead, Alyssa Long, Katarina Molchen, and Shannon Stull's collegiate lacrosse careers ended with an unexpected change. But this was nothing that these four graduates hadn't dealt with before.
"Our seniors have gone through so much change during their time at Goucher," explains rising junior Julia Gazzola. "I believe they have had more than 4 coaches leave and/or join our team since their freshman year."
But these changes have only made Umstead, Long, Molchen, and Stull stronger.
"I could not imagine all of the hardships that they have been through as far as staying hopeful and motivated on this team," says Gazzola. "The seniors were essentially the backbone of our team this year, as they have experienced the most change, yet they still served as incredible role models. They were all truly passionate about being the best that they could be at both lacrosse and their academics."
To each and every one of our Class of 2020 graduates: Thank you. We are so proud of you, and we cannot wait to see what your next chapter holds. You will forever be part of our family, and you will always have a place to call home.