Area college athletes persevere despite lost seasons

Note: This is part one of a spring series on college student-athletes. Please stay tuned for future editions for more.

By Mike Ramczyk

Correspondent

While there has been no official word on whether high school sports seasons will be cancelled, several local collegiate student-athletes have already seen their seasons completely leveled by Covid-19, or the coronavirus.

Last week’s “Safer at Home” order by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers assures there will be no school or extra-curricular activities through April 24.

While prospects look bleak for the high school seasons, college athletes lost all hope immediately a few weeks back when many lost their entire seasons, most of which already began.

Here’s a look at several area athletes who are trying to stay positive despite losing the opportunity to play the game they love.

 

Hailey Wang, senior, Dubuque University

A 2016 Elkhorn Area High School graduate and former Elk softball star, Wang is perhaps feeling the worst of the latest coronavirus restrictions, as she will not be able to play in her final collegiate season.

Last week, Wang said via Twitter they got word of the cancellation while playing their final game in a Florida tournament.

“It’s been a very difficult few weeks but my coaches and my teammates have really helped a lot,” Wang said. “I think this experience has brought us all closer together, and I don’t think I’d be as positive as I am without our constant communication in group chats.”

Wang said her coaches, Jeff Lamb and Jamie Deering, have been sending the players schoolwork and challenging them to try new things throughout the week.

Wang said it’s particularly difficult because the team was supposed to be good this season.

“I’m proud of what we accomplished this year, and I believe we would’ve done great things this season,” Wang said. “After we leave, I believe UD softball will continue to succeed.”

 

Reebee Ratkowski, senior, Wisconsin Lutheran College

A two-sport star in tennis and track and field, Ratkowski is a 2016 graduate of Waterford High School.

Her tennis team was seeded sixth in the conference tournament and enjoying their third straight appearance.

Ratkowski was hoping to compete in track for the first time, but the team missed three chances to have their first home meets on a new, resurfaced track.

“I’m sad, I technically had my main season for tennis in the fall, so I finished most of it,” she said. “But I was really looking forward to track since I just joined. I’m hopefully using the extra year of eligibility for track next spring and getting an English minor.”

 

Taylor Danielson, junior, University of Indianapolis

A former star catcher at Wilmot, Danielson offered a first-hand account of her lost season in an article on the Life in the Fastpitch Lane website.

Danielson and her teammates were flying back from a tournament in Florida to Indianapolis, and when they got on the bus back to campus, they started seeing the news on their phones.

The inevitable was coming.

“We were all heartbroken, crying in the locker room for at least 45 minutes,” Danielson said. “Personally, I was sad about the season, but knowing I had played my last game with my best friend was the saddest part.”

“This whole experience has taught me a lot. First, don’t take anything for granted. It may sound a bit cliché, but it doesn’t resonate until you experience it yourself. You truly never know when your last game is.”

 

Bryan Sturdevant, junior, UW-Whitewater

Sturdevant, an all-state second baseman for the 2016 state baseball champion Burlington Demons, said last week the Warhawks found out the season is over after playing their first three games in Louisville.

After Louisville, the team was supposed to play in Florida.

“It hasn’t really hit yet still,” Sturdevant said. “All those months of grinding…entire fall ball season with practices and intra-squads, winter months of weight training and conditioning every day, and then two-a-day practices in early spring to prepare for the season.”

 
 

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