The Cavaliers’ Last Dance

By Samantha Taddei
September 7, 2023

A Cabrini men's soccer player in their home white uniforms lines up to strike the ball with an opposing defender right next to him.
Ethan Emery kicks the ball out for the Cavs. Photo by Anna Schmader.

Cabrini is a community built around comradeship, and its athletics program has become an integral part of the university.  But after 66 storied years of tradition, Cabrini athletics faces its last dance.

Cabrini announced its closure in a joint statement with Villanova University, which will purchase the campus.

Blake Weinstein in the zone on the pitchers mound. Photo by Samantha Taddei.

The university struggled mightily with its finances and could not recover from the pandemic and declining enrollment.  Cabrini will remain open during the 2023-24 academic year for incoming and current students and then close its doors.

In 2022, of the approximately 1,250 undergraduate students enrolled at Cabrini, 25% participated in athletics. For these athletes, this news hit especially hard. 

Blake Weinstein, a rising sophomore baseball player, said, “I was devastated. I vividly remember waking up to about 15 missed calls and a ton of texts. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I would not be a part of this program for all four years.”

Evolution of Cav sports

Cavalier sports have grown tremendously since the school’s inception.  Cabrini was founded as a female-only institution in 1957 with just 37 students.  A decade later, the athletics program was born; its first athletic teams were women’s basketball and field hockey.

A new age of Cabrini athletics started in 1970 when the then-college opened its doors to male students. 

Cabrini quickly became a strong contender in Division III athletics and had consistent postseason success across several sports, including lacrosse, basketball and softball.

Men’s lacrosse participated in the NCAA Tournament every year since 2002 and clinched Cabrini’s first NCAA Championship title in 2019.  Men’s basketball advanced to the title game of the 2012 NCAA Championships, finishing in second place. Women’s softball has won seven conference Championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament seven times since the 2000 season.  Women’s lacrosse also enjoyed a long string of postseason success, with an impressive 19 NCAA tournament appearances.

Today, Cabrini university hosts 20 varsity teams and holds an impressive 146 conference championships under their belt.

Moving forward

Over the summer, many Cabrini athletes faced a weighty decision: should they enter the transfer portal or play one final year as a Cavalier?

Many underclassmen, the main group affected by the closure, already entered the transfer portal and announced commitments to play for other universities. 

This has left many teams struggling to maintain enough players to have a season. 

Senior field hockey player Julia Malle said, “Sadly, we did lose a few girls, but it was what was best for them and their academic journey. Our team isn’t the same size as it was last year but we still have enough girls to get it done and have a great season.”

The teams that do come back will be predominantly comprised of upperclassmen, and this will be the last collegiate athletic season for most of them.  This season will be the culmination of years of hard work and dedication for these remaining student players, and they will have the honor of representing the blue and white one last time.  

Play with purpose

Live with purposehas always been the Cabrini motto. But Cavalier athletes plan to follow a new motto this last year:Play with purpose.

Senior men’s soccer player Griffin Rodgers shared his team’s newfound motivation for the upcoming final season. “As sad as it is, it’s kind of exciting to be part of this last run. Being one of the last players to go through Cabrini athletics is something special,” Rodgers said. “We have a lot to prove and it gives us giant motivation. People are going to be counting us out because of the closure, but little do they know we want to win more than anything to bring pride to the Cabrini name one last time.”

Special is the only word to describe this season. To face such news would seem to divide many, but it is abundantly clear Cabrini’s athletic community has never been more united. The athletes share the common goal to make history one last time.

“I heard athletes calling this the last dance.  I couldn’t think of a more fitting title,” Rodgers said. “This is the last time we get to represent Cabrini and show not only the conference, but the world, just what Cabrini means to us and the community.” 

Ethan Emery, senior men’s soccer player, agreed. “Sometimes you don’t realize that you are a part of something special until it’s gone, or in this case, almost gone. I am so grateful and excited to be a part of Cabrini’s last dance.”  

Madison Gugel reps her school jersey. Photo by Madison Gugel.

Madison Gugel, senior softball player, summed it up. “It is sad that this is it.  But once I got over the shock of the finality of this season, I came to realize that this season is an opportunity to celebrate Cabrini Cavaliers’ 66 years of tradition in athletics,” she said.  “Every Cabrini team should make the most of this occasion and reach out and include as many alumni as possible in this celebration. It is our chance to turn a negative into a positive and I am really looking forward to a memorable year.”

One last time, Roll Cavs!

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Samantha Taddei

Samantha Taddei is a senior here at Cabrini University. She is a 21 year old Communications major with a minor in Leadership studies. Sam is also a student athlete and plays on the Cabrini softball team. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, and watch Philly sports. Her love for writing is what inspired her to join the Loquitur. She is also a part of the Cabrini Communications department's, House 67, where she will be talking all about Cabrini athletics every Thursday night on air. She hopes to one day become a journalist and share her work with everyone on a national scale.

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