College debuts put on hold

Three Vermont high school soccer standouts react to the suspension of their respective freshman college seasons this fall.
Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 9:38 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - For athletes that have earned the opportunity, the transition from playing in high school to college is likely the most exciting and challenging of their athletic careers, and the realities of the pandemic have only made that transition more challenging.

Gabrielle Knight, Cypress Levitt and Shelby Statton are teammates this summer on the Nordic Soccer club team. After months where team sports weren’t allowed due to the pandemic, just being able to get back on the field and play games the past few weeks has been a welcome relief.

“Once it opened up a little bit and we were allowed to get back to normal, it just felt really nice to have something that was regular again.”, said Levitt.

All three players were high school standouts, Knight at Essex, Levitt at Montpelier and Statton with CVU, and all are set to continue their careers in college. Knight is heading to Castleton, while Levitt and Statton are both bound for the Northeast-10, Levitt at the University of New Haven, Statton at Pace University.

All three were hoping to make their collegiate debuts this fall, but two weeks ago, the Northeast-10 announced it was suspending conference play thru the end of the year and the Little East Conference, of which Castleton is a member, canceled fall semester competition on Tuesday.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around because this is something you’ve trained and worked for since you were little.”, said Knight. “Because this has been a goal of mine, and just coming to terms with maybe that won’t be the case, is a hard thing to do. But also just knowing that it’s going to happen someday and just keep training and working hard and preparing for whenever it does happen.”

“I know that we will have a season, so I’m motivated and I know that I will need to work hard to maintain a level of play, so that I can play at that level when I get there.”, adds Statton.

Everyone, in all walks of life, has been confronted by challenges during the pandemic. Athletes are goal-oriented by nature, working toward the next practice, the next game or the next season. The pandemic has created a scenario where no one knows exactly what will happen next, or when, including when these players will have the chance to begin their college careers.

Levitt will face an additional challenge. She is also set to play lacrosse at New Haven, and if the soccer season is moved to the spring, she’ll have to choose which sport she’ll play this year.

“There’s no way I could choose between the two and I thought that I had figured it out.”, said Levitt. “And now, if I do have to pick a sport, it’s exactly what I didn’t want, so it’s kind of frustrating.”

But those same athletes also know that when the game begins, you have to be able to react to what is happening on the field. And it’s that ability that gives Knight, Levitt and Statton the confidence they’ll be able to adapt to their new circumstances.

“It’s going to be weird, but we’re all in it together and we’re going to try to play as much soccer as possible because we all love it and we’ll have each other.”, said Statton.

“It’s going to happen someday and just keep training and working hard to prepare for whenever it does happen.”, adds Knight.

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