Ellie Martin – Senior LMU Rowing

“Waking up at 5 am every day for the last four years has been exhausting and hard but at this moment I would do anything to get up that early and be on the water with my teammates. Having your senior season ripped away from you is truly heartbreaking. Not reaching the milestones of your last practice, your last race and last banquet have left me feeling lost. I was not prepared to say goodbye yet. Over the last few days finding words for my emotions has been tough, I feel like this is all just a dream and I will wake up and go to practice again. As the reality is setting in, I find myself feeling grateful for everything rowing has brought me and taught me over the years and hope that this is a minor set back to a greater good. I am excited to watch my team attack next year as we now know the competition is a privilege. My time at LMU and my time as a rower is an experience I will never forget and will cherish forever. Once a lion, always a lion.”

Aimee Chambers – Northridge High School Track and Field

“I am currently a senior in high school and the outdoor track season started last week. I am a high jumper and have been doing it since 7th grade. This year I decided to participate in indoor track, and as a result I broke our school’s indoor record… twice. I jumped 5’2” (previous record was 4’8”) then at Simplot I broke my own record, jumping 5’3”. Our outdoor record of 5’2” has been held since 1994 and I was determined to beat it. I was on track and last week at our first outdoor meet, I jumped 5’2” first try and decided to raise the bar straight to 5’4” in which I didn’t clear. I still got first, but I later realized I should’ve raised it to 5’3”. Looking back I really wish I did, because now, I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to reach my goal of setting a new PR. I’m wanting to be recognized by a college, which I’m on track to be, however, with the season postponed, there is a possibility I’ll never get that chance. I miss track season.”

Courtney Isom – Senior BYU Track and Field

Courtney IsomSenior BYU T&F

“Ever since I was 7 I had a goal to be a collegiate athlete. I didn’t know what sport until I discovered track and the natural talent I had in it. In high school I broke the school record in high jump and did about every event. My dream out of high school was obviously to go to a Division 1 University. However, the cards weren’t in my favor and I settled to go to a community college. At the community college I became a heptathlete and bunkered down to do 7 events.”

“Through literal blood, sweat, and tears I fought my way to earning 4th in the nation at our national meet in the Heptathlon AND the Javelin. Opening up the opportunity to compete at a Division 1 University. I got the call from BYU in the airport on the way home from nationals. Finally I was going to live my dream. My first year at BYU was hard work but it meant everything to me to be there. For my 4th year I redshirted and decided to give all my attention to javelin where I thought I could excel. Finally after a year and a half of training my 2020 senior year season came.”

“One week before our season opener the NCAA cancelled our whole season. My senior season was taken away from me before it even started. I was devastated. As I look back though, I wouldn’t trade the last decade of track for anything. It has taught me how to work hard, be dedicated, and fight for what you want. I’ve grown so much as a person and wouldn’t be where I am in my life without it. A dream of mine was to be a collegiate athlete. I lived that dream and will forever be proud of it.”

Taylor Wiederrecht – Senior Messiah College Track and Field

“My name is Taylor Wiederrecht and I’m a senior at Messiah College. All four years of my college career I played field hockey and ran track. While playing field hockey my freshman year, we won the NCAA Division III National Championship. Despite this accomplishment, I knew there was more to life than a championship title.”

“Over the past four years I have worked hard to become a national caliber heptathlete and high jumper. Last Thursday I received the heart breaking news that my college athletic career was coming to an end the day before I was supposed to compete in the NCAA Division III Track and Field National Championship. I was devastated, but it opened my eyes to the reality that at some point my competitive athletic career would come to an end, and I would have to move on to something greater.”

“ I am still waiting for clarity on what that “greater thing” is, but for now I cherish the memories I made with my teammates over the past four years. Though some days I find myself fighting back tears, I embrace these changes and I am grateful for this journey.”

Laurén Schiek – Junior Santa Clara Softball

“Growing up, it was always my dream to play the game I loved at the highest level, while learning at a prestigious university, receiving a high academic education. Stepping onto campus at Santa Clara fulfilled that vision for me. I wanted to come to a place where I could make an impact, be part of the change in tradition, and help put our team on the map. Freshman year, I battled through back to back injuries that kept me away from helping create this momentum of change. And with 3 coaching changes in total and a whirlwind of lessons learned, I landed to my junior year this season determined to make it the best yet, day by day sacrificing time, efforts, and energy, to be prepared, to be confident, and to be ready for my moment, along with my teammates, who were ready for theirs. Our conference season is our time to get a bid to the NCAA tournament and a moment to make a breakthrough for Santa Clara Softball. In my heart I believed Team 42 was going to be ready.”

“That moment didn’t come. “

“With the termination of this season, I was initially devastated, as the countless hours spent in training and preparation from the age of 8 had come to an uncontrollable close. Yet, I firmly believe that God can take any situation and bring good from it. Now it’s my turn to fight back in a new way. Not from injury or sickness, but to fight to be more prepared physically, intellectually, and spiritually to make a comeback when granted, to be more ready for the next moment. All the moments didn’t come this season, more moments will come. Because the best is yet to come…”

Emily Cannon – Senior BYU Cheer

 “Competitive gymnastics was my everything from age 3 to 19. After freshman year of BYU gymnastics I left to serve a mission for my church, making me the first collegiate female gymnast in BYU history to return to play after serving an LDS mission. I was one again rostered, as a walk-on, and over time regained and surpassed my previous skill level.”

“New versatile talent edged me out of the beam line-up, resulting in me being cut from the team. I grieved and made a new goal: to become a BYU Cheerleader. My own family laughed when I shared my plans, as I had ZERO cheer/stunt experience. I worked tirelessly making connections, looking for coaching anywhere I could find it. Coach Allan took a chance on me that first year. I earned that spot and worked to show my team I could contribute.”

“Cheer has helped me to grow in ways I didn’t expect, nor thought I needed; the sport will always have my heart. Cheer has only been in my life for two years and it has been devastating to see my cheer career cut short. Life without college athletics is uncertain, but I know I’m not alone, and I know that there are bigger things coming.”

Jake Toolson – Senior BYU Basketball

“Growing up it was always my dream to play at BYU. I loved the cougs and would dream of the day where I would be wearing the blue and white jersey. After high school, I had the opportunity to see my dream come true, and play on the BYU basketball team. As my dream became reality I quickly realized that it wasn’t exactly what I pictured when I was a kid. Adjusting to college and life on my own was really difficult for me. I was faced with some mental health challenges and ultimately decided that it would be best to take a step back from basketball to allow myself some time to figure some things out. I decided to transfer to UVU and play for Coach Pope. I had an amazing experience at UVU and will always be grateful for it.

Having the opportunity to come back to BYU and finish my career where it started has been truly incredible. I chose to come back to BYU to play for Coach Pope and be a part of a team that was hungry and wanted to accomplish great things. This season has been the greatest year of my life. This team proved over and over again that it does not matter what adversity you are faced with, it is all about responding with fight and finding a way to make something special happen. I will always be grateful that I had the chance to come back and finish what I started. As my college career has come to an end, it has been a great time to reflect on all of the memories. I am grateful for the adversity that I have faced because it has allowed me to grow as a person. The most rewarding part of the whole journey is to look back and see how far I’ve come and to look back on the moments that I will never forget. I’m glad that everything came full circle and I finished my career as a coug, making the dream that I had as a kid come true.”

Jonah Mathews – Senior USC Basketball

“Growing up with my dad and brother involved in basketball, I was surrounded by the game. I was never forced to play, but my Dad told me that if I wanted to play, I’d have to do it the right way. At first, I wasn’t serious about the game, I mostly just cared about my shoes and thought, ‘if my shoes look good then I’m all good.’”

“When I was young, I remember going to AAU tournaments to watch my brother play. I’d see the level my brother Jordan was playing at and it made me realize that I wanted to be a part of it too. Seeing my brother play and succeed at that high of a level really pushed me to be better.”

“USC believed in me from the beginning, but it wasn’t always easy. I didn’t score in my first six games and I quickly realized that college would be much different than high school. I hit another slump my sophomore year which really tested my love for the game. Those slumps helped me learn to be resilient and prepared me to overcome other challenges I’d face.”

“I knew I had a chance to do something great, but I had no idea I’d become USC’s all-time 3-point leader, or that it would end the way it did on senior night against our rivals.  The day before senior night I was talking to my teammate Daniel Utomi and he said to me ‘What if you hit a three to win tomorrow night?’”

“With the game tied and ten seconds left, Coach said, ‘If he makes this free throw, Jonah you’re our guy, we’re going to live and die by you. You either make it and we win, or you miss it and we lose.’ In that moment I realized that’s all I wanted to hear for the last four years. That’s what any player wants to hear, that’s what we work our whole lives for. So I thought, this is my moment. When I released the shot, I immediately knew it was going in. I thought ‘Wow, I’m that guy right now.’”

“I’m so grateful for my time at USC. To my teammates, I want you to know that all the practice you dread, the early workouts, the road trips you don’t want to go on, embrace them. I’d do anything for a March Madness shoot around. I would do anything to be in Galen practicing. Embrace the struggles and be grateful for everything because it doesn’t last forever.”

“To the fans I would say, thank you for believing me. There were times when it could’ve been easy to give up on me, but everyone stuck with me and I hope I was able to give some of that love back.”

Lauren Baglietto – Sophomore Santa Clara Water Polo

“My mom unexpectedly passed away in December of 2019. Practices for our new water polo season started early January. I knew that if there was anything that was going to get me through the toughest time of my life it was getting to play the sport I love with some of the closest friends I’ve made in my whole life.

I decided that I wanted to go back to school (although so soon after) to get to play my second season. 3 weeks into our season, my grandma passed away and then a week after my dad was hospitalized with his own health issues. Knowing that the sport and my teammates were still consistently always there for me, even when it felt like the rest of my life was falling apart, I found this new kind of motivation.

It gave me a distraction and a purpose again. And yeah it sucks that we weren’t able to finish this season, but there is so much more to be grateful for here. The opportunity we had (and still have), the life lessons we’re gaining from this experience. We bust our butts everyday for more than just to win games. We often forget that deeper purpose, but this season helped me find that deeper fire. I’m not sure where I’d be without my team or the season we experienced.”

Kyle Cuellar – Senior UCLA Baseball

“My name is Kyle Cuellar. I am a senior Political Science major at UCLA where I also play baseball. I have played baseball since I was 3 years old, it was my first love. I enrolled at UCLA as a freshmen in fall of 2016. Since then I have had a career that has seen many highs and also many lows, it has been far from easy. As a freshmen I hit a team leading .319 and was named a Freshmen All American. The next year I was ready to come back to school and have a strong sophomore campaign, however the exact opposite happened.”

“In my sophomore year I hit a team low .115 and was quickly pulled out of the starting lineup after about 12 games into the season. These same struggles continued into my junior year where I was hitting .174. About three quarters of the way into my junior season I went and got my eyes checked by a sports vision doctor. After many hours of tests it was determined by the doctor that my depth perception and binocularity were both in the 1st percentile (the worst). Depth perception and binocularity are both two major factors into trying to hit a baseball, and for the past two years my skills in both had declined quickly.”

“I was stunned to hear this news, but at the same time I was glad that I finally had an answer as to what has been going on with my performance. During my sophomore and junior year it was very tough for me to keep plugging along, not knowing why I was struggling to perform, but finally I had an answer. After receiving this news I was able to start going to vision therapy, this retrained how my eyes communicated with my brain. Vision therapy was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. Hours on hours looking at screens, crossing my eyes, and looking at objects in the distance. After about thirty sessions of therapy I was back into the 85th percentile range and trending upward.”

“During this time I had to make a tough decision of letting my coaches know or not. It was tough for me because I knew in the mean time I would be left out of games and possible not take on away road trips, but I knew that this was better for me to get the therapy I needed. After all of this happened and my eyes were finally back to normal I spent the summer going into my senior year just prepping for my final shot at baseball.”

“I worked so hard in the offseason coming into this year to make sure my eyes stayed stable, swing, and body were all dialed in for fall camp. I had a successful fall camp as well as winter, and was starting in left field. For the first time since the very beginning of my sophomore year I was back into the starting lineup opening night of the 2020 season. Through the first fifteen games of the season my team was off to a great start at 13-2 and ranked #4 in the country. As for me I was also off to a great start batting .341.”

“What could’ve been my last game at UCLA was March 8th an away game at USC. Not knowing it would be our final game of the season, we beat USC 15-3. In one of my last at bats of the season I hit a two run homer against USC, which could possibly be my last hit as a Bruin. As for what’s next for me, I do not know. This last week has all been a whirlwind of events for me as well as I’m sure many other senior athletes around the country.”

“My goal has always been to play in the MLB and with this season I was hoping to prove to MLB teams that I had recovered from everything that happened and I was ready to go. With this season being cancelled due to COVID-19 I am left with many questions as well as many uncertainty’s. The one thing that will remain certain however is my determination to play this beautiful game for as long as I possibly can, as well as the ability of never giving up no matter how hard things might get.”