Women’s volleyball and basketball seasons canceled

By Samantha Taddei
October 18, 2023

A Cabrini volleyball player in blue spiking the ball over the net in a competition (left) and a Cabrini women's basketball player in white driving from the top of the key on a defender (right)
Photo via Cabrini Cavs.

In 2020, because of pandemic lockdowns, high school athletes had their senior athletic seasons stripped away. Seniors also experienced the bitter disappointment of missing out on graduation ceremonies, the chance to leave a legacy on their teams, and last moments with friends. Four years later, Cabrini women’s basketball and volleyball face the same heartbreaking news as their senior seasons are canceled.

The unimaginable strikes again

Once Cabrini University announced its closure, athletes were faced with the decision to either play out their final year as a Cavalier or enter the transfer portal and start anew.

Most underclassmen decided to enter the transfer portal and commit to play for other universities, a decision that left many Cabrini athletics teams struggling to maintain a roster large enough to have a season.

Women’s basketball and women’s volleyball fell victim to a severe shortage of players, leading to the unfortunate cancellation of their seasons.

Laura Patton, associate director of athletics, explained when the athletic department officially decided to cancel each season.

“We made the decision for women’s volleyball right before the student athletes would have moved in for preseason. This was due to the cost that would go into it, and that our roster numbers really dipped as we neared the start of preseason. We unfortunately had to make the decision that we did not have enough student athletes to move forward,” she said.

Women’s basketball faced a similar situation. “We didn’t decide for women’s basketball until students were back on campus in the fall,” Patton said. “Again, we had a lot of athletes leave and pursue other opportunities at other institutions over the summer, leaving us with not enough roster numbers to have a season. These were very difficult decisions to make.”

To put it into perspective, in the 2022-23 season women’s basketball rostered 13 women and women’s volleyball rostered 18 women. This year, only three basketball players and four volleyball players remained.

Disbelief and denial

Senior Brielle Fitzpatrick, who would have played basketball this year, was one of the many athletes affected and whose season was stripped away.

“Finding out about the closure was upsetting, but finding out we weren’t having a season hurt even more because I’m a senior,” Fitzpatrick said. “My senior year in high school was cut short because of COVID, so it felt like I was having PTSD.”

Junior Mackenzie Griffith. Photo by Cabrini Women’s Volleyball.

Senior Abigail Paolini, another former basketball player, agreed. “I was in shock when I found out. It kind of felt like I was in a movie. Then I was in denial. It was like how is this happening again after the whole COVID thing for seniors of 2020, and now again for us in 2024? I kept asking myself what am I going to do with my life now?”

Junior Mackenzie Griffith, who would have played volleyball this year, said, “I found the news out in the middle of the summer when I was at work. Our coach sent us a text and he was also blindsided by it all.” Griffith continued, “It sucked in the beginning. There were a lot of emotions I went through. I wondered if I would ever play again, and I was also struggling with the fact that I wouldn’t be at the same school as all my friends and teammates.”

For many of these players, the 2022-23 season was the last athletic season ever in their careers.

“Next semester I’ll be going to Saint Joe’s University. They don’t have an actual volleyball team, only a club team, but by the time I get there, volleyball will have already started so I won’t be able to play this year,” Griffith explained. “Next year, I have teaching, so I’ve come to the realization that volleyball is over. It sucks knowing that. If I could go back, I wouldn’t take it for granted and would have appreciated it all more.”

More than a sport

Athletics encompass more than just games; they embody dreams, ambitions, and the culmination of years of dedicated work. “Basketball is like everything to me. I have never done school without basketball, so this is my first year just being a student. Not having it feels like this little empty spot not being fulfilled in you,” Fitzpatrick said.

Sports form an integral aspect of an athlete’s identity and stand as a deep-seated passion and crucial chapter in their life’s journey. “I’m going to miss the little things more than anything. Our pregame routine, our locker room shenanigans, the warmups, all of it was so fun. Selfishly, I’m just going to miss having that escape and having something to do all the time,” Paolini said.

Brielle Fitzpatrick (left) and Abigail Paolini (right). Photo by Cabrini Cavs.

“Basketball has been my life. It has been my connection to a lot of things and has been an escape from reality. When I have a lot going on in my head I would go to the court and play. It’s been my life, and I don’t really know how I can walk away from it forever,” she wondered.

While the seasons may have been stripped from these players, the memories they’ve created will last a lifetime.

“It’s been hard dealing with this but I know it’s not the end of the road. It’s the end of the road for Cabrini, which sucks,” Fitzpatrick said. “I miss my teammates, the atmosphere, and just basketball in general. It’s done a lot for me.”

“Cabrini as an organization for basketball was amazing. There was no environment like it,” Paolini said. “Cabrini athletics in general was always just one small family. I think we are all hurting the same way and are just trying and learning to work through it.”

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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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