Following arm surgery last year, Alyssa Wing was cleared to take the field for her senior year.
“Ladies I am struggling with my words to tell you about the remainder of our season.”
Without reading on, I knew what the rest of this message from my coach would say. The day prior, the NBA and Ivy League schools had discontinued their seasons. I walked the mile trek from Muir College to RIMAC, where my coaches and my teammates were gathering. It was pouring rain and I always thought I was strong enough to come to campus without an umbrella, but I did not feel strong enough this time. I was the first player to walk into my coach’s office. I was soaking wet, my shoes were squelching, and my coach looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I’m so sorry, Wing. They canceled it.”
As more girls showed up, we all sat together in a room, and for the most part did not speak. What was there to say? I knew that season was over, I knew there was no chance of me playing with my seniors again, and I knew that I was about to feel a hell of a lot of heartbreak. At the time, several teammates were in class, and I wished I could pull them into the room with us. I also knew I had to give a final presentation with Brittney, my teammate, in about an hour. However, here we were crying our eyes out, snot running everywhere, with our teammates trying to bring up the mood.
A little background about myself. I am a senior who goes by my last name, Wing. After two years of softball at El Camino College, I was offered the opportunity to transfer to UC San Diego and fulfill my college softball dreams. I enjoy playing softball, thinking about softball, and being with my teammates who also enjoy playing softball.
About one month into my junior season, I dove on my throwing arm wrong and tore my rotator cuff and labrum. I played the remainder of the season but needed surgery if I wanted to enjoy my senior year. At the end of June, I went into surgery with a six to nine-month recovery timeframe. This would put me back into action just in time for my last season. I vowed to do everything in rehab correctly, eat healthier, and work on my mental game as much as possible in order to help me reach my peak as a senior leader. I was cleared midway through February and served my team as a pinch hitter for the first few weeks. On March 9th, I started in my first game. There were no games between that day and March 12th, the day season ended. My first senior game was also my last. How ironic, right?
I find it hard to explain to people what this situation feels like, other than sad. The thing is, I think most seniors go into their last year thinking, “I’ll give this everything I’ve got, and when that last game comes, I’ll walk away feeling content and ready to close this chapter in my life.” Instead, we had just discussed our team bonding plans for Friday and how excited we were for our Turlock Tournament. With the following days, our team kept each other company. This time bonded us with something stronger than any win or loss could have. We watched movies together, baked together, and leaned on one another. Then, everyone started finding their way back to their hometowns. Eventually it trickled down to a few of us still in San Diego, and then I found my way home too.
I have been home since then, quarantining with my parents and brother. I cannot say what happened and continues to happen does not suck, but there can be much worse things. My team still laughs together over Zoom calls, everyone’s body is healing from the strains of season, and Snapchat memories really have come in handy. Wildlife is benefitting with more birds chirping, people are reconnecting, and the likeliness of a future pandemic is decreasing. There is a silver lining in everything. Being a student-athlete was one of the most important parts of my life, but it was not the only part. We are all healing together, and we are prepared to handle the challenges we will face. From one athlete to the next, we stick together.
I came into this program thinking it was a great university to get my education at and I would get to continue playing softball in sunny San Diego… I came out of it with a new family, so many unique memories, more confidence, and countless character-building lessons. To say this program improved my life would be an understatement.
Alyssa Wing is a two-year member of the UC San Diego softball team. The Torrance, Calif. native is a human development major and music minor at Marshall College. Following graduation, Wing plans to take time off, maybe plan a road trip, and later apply to graduate school.
This story first appeared in the online series, “In Their Own Words” by UC San Diego Athletics.