Alexa Atlas ('22)
The sun sets over an empty Cougars field for the 60th consecutive day. There have been no face-offs, cross checks or goals since tryouts on March 12th. What was once a promising season has become a schedule filled with blanks across the win-loss columns. But Cougars always find a way to succeed.
Athletes are known to persevere. Whether it be in practice, training, or games, athletes always find ways to overcome the obstacles meant to keep them from achieving goals. But what if that obstacle shuts down the entire sports world as we know it?
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to all forms of activity, including all sporting events. Here, we take a look at how the boys lacrosse team is coping with their latest obstacle and at What Could’ve Been?
The Cherry Hill East Boys Lacrosse team was coming into the year with hopes of reaching the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs. A team stacked with senior and younger talent alike, they were ready to reach the same heights as the 2018 lacrosse team. A team with both camaraderie and ultimate passion for the game, expectations were through the roof during tryouts.
“I think we could’ve had a great season and successful postseason,” said junior Rei O’brien (‘21).
“We had a lot of good talent in the senior class and it was looking pretty good with our schedule,” added Danny Yasenchak (‘21).
Each season was supposed to culminate with a successful 2020 for these seniors. Colin Cunningham, Sean Coen, Jacob Holland, Chris Lembo, Vicente Gracias, Sam Stofman, Aidan Ford, Kevin Thunberg, Robbie Rojas and Stanford Brown left an impact beyond the field to this program, and the season ending the way it did was gut-wrenching to everybody.
“East lacrosse meant so much to me,” said Holland. “I think we are all proud of what we have done and know that it is in good hands when we leave.”
Each non-senior I spoke to referred to the seniors as the backbone to this year’s team, so the pandemic lost them more than just a good season, but what could’ve been an incredible one.
“The program was building up to this year because of our talented senior class,” O’brien said.
But while the pandemic has been a sad time for the lacrosse players, these boys have been finding the silver lining to the entire situation.
“Our leaders continue to encourage the rest of the team to be exercising and playing with the stick everyday,” said Hank Feudtner (‘21).
And while they all continue to run, hit the gym and practice with their sticks and nets at home, this team truly went above and beyond their limits.
“We had a Covid-19 Play Lax Day for the town of Cherry Hill,” said Holland. “Many of our guys have been posting stuff on their social media accounts to spread the sport out to other people and especially the younger kids.”
By turning the negatives into a positive, this team spread the love of their sport across Cherry Hill and into the homes of each community member. The social media presence they created brought not only a smile to the faces of the depressed, but also brought awareness to a sport that continues to grow each year.
And through it all they remain connected as well.
“All the guys have been checking in on each other through our team Group Me,” said junior Dom Angelastro (‘21).
“We have all talked and the team and I have hopes to play one final game on July 30th at Decou, under the lights, as our senior game, to end our careers right,” said Holland.
By staying positive throughout the situation, this team has brought up the morale of themselves and of others, but they are all itching to get back out there for one final game. And there is no doubt that the countrymen will be cheering them on from the side.
The seniors will leave East with their heads held high that they made an impact off of the field when they weren’t able to make one on it. This is only proof that athletes persevere beyond society’s boundaries, and a testament to the fortitude of this lacrosse team.
So while this pandemic has not adhered to the expectations of any of the boys lacrosse players, their perseverance has led to a senior class being able to leave with a legacy of greatness as people and players.
This will forever be a story of “What Could’ve Been.”