UL Lafayette Senior Sports Players Affected by COVID-19 Decide Whether to Let Go or Hold On to Final Season

Jacob Lafleur

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused a halt to most economic activities and all athletic events, including college and professional competition.

The sports most affected by the virus are spring sports like baseball and basketball. College students, among the rest of the population, continue to self-quarantine and stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.

This put an end to all public gatherings ultimately ending a huge source of entertainment for a large percentage of Americans, colligate and professional sports.

As devastating as this virus was to sports fans, it caused more stress and frustration for the athletes than anyone else.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s baseball program lost its longtime head coach Tony Robichaux last year to a heart attack. This year’s season had a certain amount of attention around it because of how long Robichaux had been the coach and how successful he was.

The Tony Robichaux Memorial in front of Russo Park

This season Matt Deggs took over as head coach after already assistant coaching at ULL for one of their most successful seasons in 2014. Deggs was the head coach at Sam Houston State University for five seasons before returning to head coach at ULL. This season was promising, and the team began to find a rhythm with the new coach before COVID-19 halted everything

The uncertainty of what the future will hold has been the most prominent question for seniors on the baseball team such as Gavin Bourgeois. Bourgeois was in the middle of his senior season returning from a previous injury and excited to perform like he knew he could.

“I was playing well last year and got hurt and wasn’t able to finish the season. This year I was finally healthy for what should have been my last season and finally getting into a groove whenever the season was canceled,” Bourgeois said.

The National College Athletic Association granted another year of eligibility for seniors trying to finish their athletic careers or further them into professional sports.

Bourgeois finds himself in the same situation as many other student athletes, deciding whether to return for another year of sports or to use the degree he earned and begin a career. Bourgeois finished his degree this year in risk management and insurance and could earn a job.

“I feel like I want to go out on my own terms, but you have to be smart. You have to know when to hang it up,” Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois was particularly disappointed in the timing of the shutdown. The team had just got into a winning streak and was two days away from conference play, the most important period of the season.

Student athletes all over the country are having to make decisions like Bourgeois and end their careers in sports due to COVID-19. Other students, like ULL’s Brennan Breaux, are taking advantage of the NCAA granting more eligibility for students losing their final seasons to reasons beyond their control.

Breaux received his degree in business management this year but plans to play his last season while receiving his masters. The strangest part of the shutdown to Breaux was simply the lack of baseball.

“I was just used to doing the same thing every spring for most of my life, it was a like a routine and it just felt weird missing out on that this year,” Breaux said.

Like Bourgeois and many other players, Breaux was hopeful for this season and was confident in coach Deggs’ leadership. Breaux said he was enthusiastic about the group of players and how they worked together. Everyone was having fun and playing good baseball.

The athletes that participate in the sports that got canceled are devastated and disappointed, but the shutdown goes farther than just the players. Colligate and professional sports have been a huge entertainment source for people in America for decades.

 Sports fanatics, such as ULL junior and psychology major Peyton Aucoin have been greatly disappointed during this disaster.

The shutdown really took a toll on people like Aucoin because while in quarantine, there is nothing to do but schoolwork, watch television or entertain yourself. Being such a sports fan, Aucoin has found himself missing sports more than ever.

“It sucks pretty bad, there’s nothing else to do and sometimes I feel like I could just lose it, I guess,” Aucoin said jokingly.

Aucoin is mostly a basketball fan but is extremely knowledgeable about almost any sport. His main concern is the senior athletes in high school and college.

“I just feel bad for those seniors who fought for their starting positions. All that work and some of them aren’t even going to be able to play again. It’s just sad,” Aucoin said.

Though the future for Bourgeois is still unknown, Breaux is optimistic about the coming seasons of ULL baseball. Both players had nothing but good things to say about what Deggs was doing with the program and the group of players there right now.

“I’m not sure about the incoming freshman but I know the guys this year gelled well and with a good bit of the seniors returning I think we have a good season coming,” Breaux said.

ULL athletics and academics hope to resume to normal capacity in the coming fall semester and return to its history of success.

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