When grass stains and clay, and shoulder pads, and sticks, and bats, and helmets, and handshakes, and high fives, and goals, and runs, and points, and horns, and whistle blares, and racket strings, and wedge shots, and sweaty gear, and long bus trips home, and extra film sessions, and team meetings define half of your college experience and probably more than half of your own identity, it is an air-gasping, visceral gut punch when those everyday menial “things” are taken from you. Suddenly. Gone. No good answers.

The routine of weights, class, practice, dinner, film, study hall every day and into the night, seeming as if it were never going to end, suddenly gone. Gone from your everyday life and not on your own terms. Out of your control.

There was no slow fade, no preparing yourself for the end, no walking off into the sunset. And here we are. Scrolling the news feed, wondering what blow could be coming next?

COVID-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into the world’s game plan and literally everyone is being forced to drop back and punt. It’s all so hard to comprehend. There are no comforting words that can hug the hurt out of someone whose heart is tethered to a game that no longer can be played on the terms they once agreed to. It’s awful.

How will the “what ifs” and the “if onlys” be answered? One more shot, one more at-bat, another chance at your strongest opponent, just one more chance...to prove it could be done.

It’s heavy. It’s sad. The loss of your season has left a hole in your heart. How will you deal with it? The answer, Hawks, is already within you! It has been there all along. You have used it every day, at every practice, in every game, in every project for class, or in that presentation you pulled an all-nighter for.

Keep going, Hawks. It may seem simple and unassuming but it’s where you are, it’s where the world is.

But athletes... athletes keep going. Athletes are hard -to keep going. Fall down. Get up. Get hurt. Push through. Make an error. Shake it off. Shank a drive. Fix it for next time. Miss a shot. Keep shooting. At all costs, keep going.

Then suddenly this same perseverance on the field, learned in the heat of competition and in those grinding daily schedules, transfers into everything done in your real life. And no matter how hard it gets, or has gotten, you keep going.

Hawks, as sure as the sun rises on a new day, rest assured that the first draw will come again. The first pitch will come again. The winning passing shot will come again. The perfect read on a long putt will come again. The game-clinching goal will come again.

For seniors, it’s not as easy. How do you reconcile not playing in that senior game with your friends, family, and fans watching? How do you reconcile not going out on your own terms? There are no solid answers right now. But what is true is that you will not go it alone, Hawks. You will rise again, and we will navigate the COVID-19 situation as a team.

Remember to always, keep going.