After winning the Sunshine State Conference Tournament, the women’s basketball team set out in early March to compete in the NCAA tournament. When the tournament was canceled and Eckerd announced the closure of dorms, the team realized their successful season was cut short and they would have to return home. For some, that meant traveling halfway across the world.
On March 13, the Sunshine State Conference announced the cancellation of all league competitions and championships for the spring 2020 semester, in alignment with the NCAA Board of Governors Resolution.
Seniors Zoe Richards and Eneritz Larranaga are two of four players whose last season with the Tritons, and last semester on campus, was cut short.
“On the drive there we were all talking on the bus about different basketball tournaments beginning to be shut down. But I was trying not to think about it happening to us because I did not want to speak that into existence,” Richards, a center, said.“I was extremely overwhelmed with the whole situation. I didn’t know how to process the season-ending like that as well as then coming to terms with senior year being over.”
Upon hearing the news, the team posted a photo on Instagram captioned, “Tough news today but we are grateful for the year we have had and all the memories made! SSC Tourney Champs are here.”
Despite their efforts to remain positive, many were still upset with the outcome of their season.
“I felt very frustrated and upset at the beginning because they made us all go all the way there and made us all excited about playing. We even practiced and it felt great, I was ready to play. So it hurt even more,” Larranaga, a guard, said.
Like Laranaga, Richards was excited to play and upset at the situation as well.
“I have been coming to terms with the whole situation. I am really proud that we did get to finish the season on a high note winning the SSC Conference Tournament. I do understand that decisions were made due to the COVID-19 virus,” Richards said.
Although this was a disheartening end to the season, the team understood why it had to end this way. “It is hard to admit to this but I do think it was the right decision for the greater good of society,” Richards said.
When arriving on campus, the team was forced to pack their belongings for the evacuation order by Eckerd College due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the stay-at-home orders and the disruption of life, this has caused many of the seniors to grow a sense of unknowingness.
‘This is everyone’s war’
As international recruits, Richards and Larranaga had to return to their homes.
Richards returned to her home in New Zealand. “I have been spending some quality time with my family as well as working out and finishing up the school year,” Richards said.
Larranaga returned to her home in Spain. “I keep myself busy. I do homework and keep up with my online classes. I am also trying to improve my chinese since I am minoring in it and I have more time to work on it. And I obviously workout every day and watch a series,” Larranaga said.
Richards had goals to play professionally overseas, but these plans were put to a screeching halt due to the pandemic. “I was meant to play for a professional team in Australia once I finished college for 3 months however because of the virus that league was cancelled. I am still hoping to play in Europe but at the moment everything is at a standstill. It is hard to know what will happen with the league overseas and whether or not I will be able to find a contract,” Richards said.
Larranaga had the goal to earn her master's degree at a university somewhere in Europe, but planning is hard due to the pandemic. “I think the pandemic will affect my future. Everything is in the air right now, I don’t know if I will be able to attend college to get my masters degree or I will have to do it online,” Larranaga said.
Larranaga also shared that the country she calls home, Spain is going through a difficult time. “I would like to encourage people to act responsibly so they do not go through what we are going through right now. This is everyone’s war and only together will we win it,” Larranaga said.
This situation was not easy for the team, but the continued support has made it bearable for the group.
“I know everyone is finding it difficult but I am very thankful for the amazing support from my family, friends, coaches, athletic department and college at this time. We are all going to see brighter days; we all need to look after ourselves and remember #eckerdtritonsfamilyforlife,” Richards said.