For many Liberty senior athletes, a fifth year is what they need to find closure
After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the NCAA and graduating seniors due to canceled sports seasons, the NCAA voted at the end of May to allow programs to bring spring sports seniors back with a bonus fifth year of eligibility.
On April 16, Liberty University’s Athletic Director Ian McCaw announced that 19 seniors at Liberty have expressed an interest in playing an additional year at the school.
“When you get kids like that back in the locker room, that’s a big, big deal,” said baseball Head Coach Scott Jackson, who has senior shortstop Cam Locklear and second baseman Trey McDyre returning for a fifth year. “To have those guys be able to mentor, to be able to point to them and say, ‘That’s how you practice, that’s how you carry yourself as a player,’ is awesome.”
While some athletics programs across the nation are unable to give this opportunity to their seniors due to financial restrictions, McKaw and Liberty’s administration decided they had the means to give students one more shot at a full athletic season.
“This to me is the right thing,” softball Head Coach Dot Richardson said. “It’s great to know you’re at a university that is blessed to afford to do the right thing.”
Richardson has infielder Amber Bishop and catcher Kayla Harris returning for another senior year.
Nineteen out of 39 spring sports seniors are interested in returning, but some still have logistics to work out. At the time of the announcement, Liberty lacrosse senior Carly White, who is not on scholarship, was unsure if she would be able to return at the time of the announcement, but she knows that she is unsatisfied with how last season ended.
“I did not want to take out loans, and that’s been a big deal,” White said. “But I am leaning toward staying because it feels so unfinished. … It’s hard to lose something so quickly. I think I am letting go of this season, and soon I will be ready to say if I am 100% ready to continue.”
While the program is giving each player time to make his or her decision, for some seniors, a fifth year is what they need to find the closure to their career.
“It’s something I’m super happy about and super blessed to be able to do,” Locklear said. “I want to continue to play ball at a high level. … I have been playing this game for almost 20 years, and having my career end like that would have left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Chad Wylie is the Asst. Sports Editor. Follow him on Twitter @chadewylie