It’s not easy walking away from a sport you’ve played your whole life.
With every season that goes by in college sports, there are players in their very last season. It marks the end of their athletic career as they get ready to take the lessons they’ve learned from their sport into the professional world.
Luckily, some athletes have been given an opportunity to compete for one more year, due to the NCAA granting them another year of eligibility because of the pandemic, so what normally would be their final season is now a unique opportunity for them to get another chance to achieve their goals and further their education.
When asked about what goes into making this decision, education proved to be one of the top reasons for them to continue.
“The academic side is arguably, almost more important,” Allen said. “Me and my academic advisors, we found out that if I take this fifth year, I could graduate with a double major in philosophy and communications, and a minor in business.”
Allen says that this will also help him as he looks to attend law school in the future.
“A major reason for why I decided to do it was the possibility of actually using that fifth year in order to get my graduate degree,” said Khotynetskyi. “After speaking to the coaches and working through some scenarios, we came up with the perfect scenario for me, and how to use my scholarship as much as I can in order to get my graduate degree as soon as possible.”
Khotynetskyi continued to say that some athletes have all their academics dealt with, and they just want to focus on achieving their athletic goals, but he puts a lot of emphasis on his education.
“I am at that point where I know my swimming is coming to an end, and at this point I would say my education will be more important to me,” Khotynetskyi said.
Not only does this extra year of eligibility give student athletes a chance to further their education, but it also gives some athletes a chance to comeback from an injury and make up for time they spent on the sideline, pool deck, etc.
Keaton Hervey, a graduate student who last year transferred from Missouri State and plays forward for the men’s basketball team, says that he was unable to play his senior year of high school because of an injury. With this extra year, he was able to make up some lost time on the court.
“Having a COVID year, being granted an extra year, it’s just a way for everything to come full circle,” Hervey said.
This extra year will also help Hervey in his aspirations to play basketball professionally.
Allen suffered an ACL injury this past season that left him with limited time to train for the recently concluded Horizon League Championship Meet, and he says he’s going to take advantage of this extra year to get a better chance at achieving his goals in the pool.
“I was recovering for about six months, didn’t really fully recover until December, so it gave me like really 2 months to really really train for my meet.” “I scored points, a fair amount of points for the team, but I think there’s definitely more in me, and if I get a full season, extra season, that would be nice.”
His goals for next season are to make Olympic trial cuts in any of the 400 IM, 200 IM, or the 200 Fly and to finish in the top three of those events in next year’s championship meet.
For as bad as the pandemic was for these student athletes, it ended up giving them an opportunity have another chance to reach their goals and finish their career with graduate degrees, setting them up well for their long-term future after athletics.