By EMILY KEEHAN
On Saturday, Oct. 27, the UMW women’s varsity volleyball team hosted Penn St. Harrisburg. It was a hard-fought game that resulted in UMW beating Penn St. Harrisburg 3-0. The game was not only the last game of the team’s CAC play, but allowed Mary Washington to finish out the division with a 7-0 record. It was an exciting game and day for the team. The impressive stats and results are something to be proud of, but this game was meaningful in a different way as well. The game was especially special because it was senior day for UMW.
Senior day serves to honor players who are in their final year of study at the University of Mary Washington. It is a tradition observed by many education institutions and has a different meaning to everyone involved. On the surface, the day seems like any other gameday. An opponent comes to the home court and a game is played, but on this special occasion the UMW side has added motivation and passion.
“Senior day gives our team a little extra boost to give it our all and win the game for the seniors,” said Leslie Walters, one of two seniors on the team.
It is a bittersweet day that highlights the seniors and their time at the school and on the team, but also symbolizes the end of an era.
“To me, senior day is a day to celebrate my and our other senior’s accomplishments being a 4 year varsity student athlete. We are 2 of 6 that came in with our class to make it all four years, and it is crazy to think it is coming to an end soon,” said Walters.
“Being a Division lll student-athlete means that we don’t have a scholarship, but that we play truly for the love of the game. We had to sacrifice many social events, do a great deal of schoolwork on the road, and spend countless hours in the gym to pursue our passion. I wouldn’t trade my experience as an eagle for the world,” explained Walters.
Even though players sacrifice to pursue their passion, they do not resent the sport. For players, these sacrifices are worth it because it allowed them to dedicate themselves to the team and sport they love. And at the end of their time at the university, they can look back fondly on the good times and successes they had because of that dedication.
It is not just a special day for the seniors, but also the freshman, sophomores and juniors on the team. The seniors serve as the foundation of the team, motivating and guiding players to do their best. Over the years, they have gained endless experience and knowledge they can pass along to newcomers of the team as well as veterans. They can lead by example and inspire their teammates through even the hardest of times. This is the team’s opportunity to give back and show their appreciation.
“To me, senior day is important because it allows the team and our supporters to celebrate everything that the seniors have accomplished for themselves and for the team over their years being a teammate,” said junior Savannah Powers. “Both our seniors, Leslie and Ryan, have done an incredible job leading our team to several successes over the years and I look up to them dearly.”
The years of dedication the seniors gave to the sport of volleyball and the UMW team will not soon be forgotten. The cycle will continue, and current juniors will have their day this time next year, but this year the seniors get to enjoy all the success they have achieved at the University of Mary Washington. Though they will graduate this upcoming spring, the many good times the team had together will forever remain the minds of all the players.