For Olean High School softball player Elyse Graham, losing her senior season was tough considering the game’s importance in her life.  

“It has always meant so much to me and is always something I can fall back on and help me take my stress out if I need to,” Graham said. 

On March 18, after just one week of practice, spring sports seasons were postponed after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to close schools until April 18 due to COVID-19. 

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On May 1, Cuomo announced that schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year, canceling spring seasons completely. 

“The first few days when I found out everything was canceled, it was pretty hard because I knew that I wouldn't be able to play my senior year on the field I've been playing on since I was on modified,” Graham said

Olean entered the season as reigning Class B1 champions after winning the Section VI title for the third straight year. 

“We were expecting good things and felt we had a great team and a great shot coming back,” Olean athletic director and softball coach Steve Anatasia said. 

Portville softball player Jillian Hlasnick said that she had a feeling her season would be canceled since college and professional sports seasons were. She mentioned her disappointment in having to miss out on memories with her team.

“It started with our Myrtle Beach trip getting canceled, which we were all kind of bummed about, and then shortly after that we found that we wouldn't have a season,” Hlasnik said. 

Portville was also coming off a Section VI championship last year in Class C1. 

“I think they had some time to prepare for it but I think all of them are probably disheartened, for sure. It's too bad because they’ve worked hard and been a part of the program for a number of years,” Portville coach William Torrey said. 

“Like all of our seasons, we had high hopes and expectations, so I’m sure they were sad to see it not come to fruition but also take solace all the things they have been able to accomplish,” he added. 

Despite their final seasons being over, both Graham and Hlasnik will have the opportunity to compete at the next level. Graham will play softball at St. Bonaventure, while Hlasnik will play hockey at SUNY Cortland. 

For many seniors, the cancellation marked the end of their sports careers.

“It's a real sad time for these seniors you know," Jeffery Howe, Cuba-Rushford’s boys tennis coach said. "They're missing out on a sport that they love … They’re really missing out on what was supposed to be a great senior year for them.”

Although tennis is a lifelong sport, Howe feels badly about his seniors missing the opportunity to play competitively on a team. 

Mike Wilber, who has coached track at Allegany-Limestone since 1987, said it is odd not having a season, especially since he thought very highly of his team and the group of seniors on it this year. 

“As far as my disappointment, it definitely doesn't compare to the disappointment of my seniors," Wilber said. "I just feel so heartbroken for those kids. I mean, they put in the work all through indoor track season and training.”

“This is my 32nd year, and I'll have another opportunity but a lot of our seniors won’t. This was their last opportunity with sports, so it is unfortunate” he added. 

Click here to hear a podcast with the athletes and coaches in this story.

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