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In their own words: Waterford's Sara Buscetto, Southern Connecticut softball

Editor's note: Waterford's Sara Buscetto, a senior softball captain at Southern Connecticut State University, had her season abruptly ended earlier this month when spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first of a periodical series of essays written by local college student-athletes who suffered similar fates, Buscetto expresses her thoughts on the situation. Her essay first appeared on the SCSU website (scsuowls.com) and is reprinted with SCSU and Buscetto's permission.

By Sara Buscetto

It's been hard for me to find the words to explain how I have been feeling regarding the abrupt cancellation of our softball season. After finally processing what's happening here, I speak on behalf of all athletes affected by this when I say that we're heartbroken.

When my teammates and I returned to campus in August to start my senior year, our schedule consisted of practice five days a week with three days of strength and conditioning workouts mixed in and we also had three weekends of games in the fall.

When we began our preseason in January, we practiced six days a week and had strength and conditioning three days a week, usually at 7 a.m. We traveled to Myrtle Beach (S.C.) for President's Day weekend to play our first six games, and then returned home to practice for three more weeks to prepare for the rest of the 40 regular-season games on our schedule.

If you're not familiar with the life of a college student-athlete, all of this was done on top of attending class and doing homework.

To say we work hard is an understatement. Softball isn't just a sport. It's our life.

I understand that our health and well-being is the highest priority right now, and I appreciate that all of the people involved in making these tough decisions are keeping those things in mind. However, as a senior, after 16 years of blood, sweat and tears poured into this game, and not having control over any of those decisions, I can't help but be a little angry at having it ripped away from me, pretty much overnight.

To put into perspective just how chaotic things have been, here is the timeline of it all:

March 9, 9 a.m. (three days before we were scheduled to depart for The Spring Games in Orlando, Fla.): We are notified by our coach, Jill Rispoli, that there has been a freeze on University-sponsored travel outside of Connecticut for all SCSU students. We were a little unclear as to whether or not we could go, as we pay for our own trip.

March 9, 1 p.m.: Our spring trip is canceled and there is now uncertainty about the rest of our season. The State University system declared that all state schools were only allowed to play other teams from Connecticut in addition to not be permitted to travel outside of the state. Also, Southern Connecticut is one of two teams in the Northeast 10 from Connecticut.

March 10, 2:30 p.m.: We are notified that our doubleheader against Post University on March 18th has been canceled as they would be returning from Florida on March 12th and may have been exposed to COVID-19.

March 10, 9:30 p.m.: SCSU is evacuated. All students are instructed to be off campus by noon of the following day. All spring sports are shut down for Spring Break.

March 12, 10:30 a.m.: The NE10 suspends all spring sports until April 13th, with the expectation of continuing the season.

March 13, 6:30 p.m.: NCAA grants eligibility waivers for DI, DII, & DIII spring sports student-athletes.

March 17, 6:51 p.m.: SCSU announces that the school will close for the remainder of the semester, including graduation ceremonies.

March 17, 11:30 p.m.: The NE10 cancels the remainder of all spring seasons.

Through this entire ordeal, there have been three things I have learned from softball that I want everyone who reads this to take into consideration during these very difficult, unprecedented times:

• Never panic. In pressure situations, keep your composure, stay calm, take a deep breath, and have confidence in your ability to get through it.

• Fight through adversity. In softball and in life, there will always be obstacles. There will always be challenges, failures, and things that knock you down. It's how you push through those things and recover from them that make you successful.

• Teamwork. When one person fails, we all do. When one person succeeds, we all do. There's strength in numbers, and together we can do a lot more than we can alone.

I'm extremely grateful that the NCAA is giving me, and so many athletes in my position, the opportunity to keep our eligibility for next spring. I'm looking forward to finishing my career the right way — with the best teammates, coaches, and support system I could ask for.

Stay positive, stay safe, and go Owls!

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