By Meghan Carroll & Taylor Viles – News Editor and Sports Editor
Sports play an important role in life for many people. Due to COVID-19, the enjoyment of sports was abruptly taken away. Athletes were affected by the guidelines and restrictions of the virus. The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) canceled its 2020 spring season due to the spike in cases, not thinking the same precautions would continue into the following semester.
What did this mean for first-year college athletes? Looking at schools in the spring became difficult, but Lasell continued to recruit for the future despite the circumstances.
First-year athlete Sarah Milne is an Event Management major from Tewksbury. As a soccer recruit and new member of the women’s basketball team, she shared her experience of the recruiting process. “During quarantine, I was in touch with the coach the whole time. We had Zoom calls and I also had Zoom calls with some of the professors which was helpful because I was able to learn more about my major.”
Milne competed in the same two sports at Innovation Academy Charter School in Tyngsboro. She received an honorable mention at the end of her senior soccer season in high school. She also made the Lowell Sun’s All-Star second team at the end of her senior basket- ball season after leading her team in points.
By her sophomore year of high school, Milne had verbally committed to rival GNAC school Johnson & Wales but once she came to Newton, it became clear this was the right school for her. “I really fit in on campus,” she said.
During her final visit, she met with coaches and professors including her future soccer head coach, Vito La Francesca. He said he was pleasantly surprised when she decided she wanted to look into Lasell instead of going with her original choice. He also realized once he met her, she would be an asset to his team. “Right off the bat we knew she had special skill,” said La Francesca. “Her attitude is amazing… She has the foot skills and she’s intelligent on the field… We could tell that she was going to be an amazing player.”
After that visit, Milne committed, but the soccer season was on the line. Ultimately, it was canceled weeks leading up to her arrival on campus for pre-season. “I was sad, I wasn’t really surprised but we didn’t really know if we could practice, but we’re able to now which is great.”
The Athletic Department and coaches reached out to all athletes, making sure to extend a special welcome to the first-year students. “[Athletic Director Kristy Walter] reached out to me personally,” said Milne. “I was in touch with her already because we were making my schedule for soccer and…basketball. Everyone was very helpful and made it known they were there for me if I needed anything.”
Milne made the decision to stay on campus despite the cancelation. “I want the freshman experience, even though with COVID-19 it is going to be different,” she said. “I still get to be part of the experience of living in a dorm and being part of the soccer team. Even though we met last week, we get along so well.”
Although this is not the way athletes would like to spend their season – strictly practicing with many restrictions – it gives teams a chance to work on their chemistry and train harder for next season. Milne explained even though her team can’t bond under normal circumstances, meeting virtually has helped to bring the team together. “I think once we…met on campus, we were able to talk to each other and introduce our- selves. We’re already like family.”
La Francesca is happy their soccer family has a new member and is confident in her abilities to be a difference maker on the field during her college career. “She is going to be an impact player for us, especially on the defensive side,” said the Head Coach. “She is going to be one of our outstanding players.”
With her first season on the horizon, Milne has goals she is striving toward. “I want to make it to GNACs and win the championship for sure. I want to be a leader and step up my game.” With her athletic history, Lasell fans should be excited to see what Milne brings to both the field and the court.