October 19, 2021

Cortland’s lost opportunity

Virus shutdown leaves ‘On The Rise’ team disappointed

Photos by Jamie Brown/provided

LEFT: Grace Call, left, of the Cortland Purple Tigers girls’ lacrosse team, plays in a Section III playoff game against Jamesville-DeWitt on May 23, 2019. RIGHT: Teammate Hannah Aldrich, center, sets a block in the playoff game against Jamesville-DeWitt. Call, Aldrich and the rest of the Purple Tigers’ seniors lost their final season to the coronavirus pandemic.

Losing the 2020 season to the coronavirus pandemic “doesn’t seam real, still,” according to Cortland High girls’ lacrosse coach Kindra Catalano.

After a 6-11 record in 2019 and a second-round tournament exit at the hands of Jamesville-DeWitt, the Purple Tigers entered 2020 with a new motto.

“Junior year was definitely a turning point, and our quote for the season was ‘On The Rise,’ so we were hoping to carry that momentum into our senior season,” Cortland defender Hannah Aldrich said. “We were hoping to improve from last year’s record and were really excited for this year because we had been building this team throughout high school. We would also be playing our final season with the group we started playing with in ULA [the Upstate Lacrosse Association] back in third grade.”

As the team waited for a resolution, Grace Call, who accumulated over 100 points in her career with the Purple Tigers, said she kept active during quarantine “by doing home workouts, going on hikes and going on bike rides.”

Unfortunately, instead of being on the rise, the season came tumbling down when all NYSPHSAA spring sports activities were canceled due to COVID-19.

“As a coach, losing this season was devastating,” Catalano said. “The Cortland girls’ lacrosse program will graduate nine seniors this season. The majority of these players have been playing for me at the varsity level since the ninth grade. I am disappointed we did not get the opportunity to put all of their talents together for a final season. I continue to remind myself that their futures are so bright, they are so talented academically and athletically.”

“Athletically talented” may be putting it lightly for the likes of Aldrich and Call. This year they helped the Purple Tigers soccer and volleyball teams to a Section III semifinal appearance and championship, respectively.

Aldrich will continue her athletic career in volleyball at Paul Smith’s College, where she will major in outdoor recreation. Call will study nursing at Le Moyne and play club sports.

“This program has been positively impacted by [the seniors’] involvement and I have faith they will continue to give back to the game and our community in years to come,” Catalano said.

“I am definitely going to miss playing with all my friends,” Aldrich said. “Throughout all our seasons, we have always had really good team chemistry… This senior class had so many scholar-athletes and many of them played multiple sports, so it will definitely impact the classes below us after losing so many players on each team. I am very proud of all my classmates and to have been a senior in the Class of 2020.”

“I will miss seeing all my friends every day at practice and games, and all the fun things we did together,” Call said.

In addition to Aldrich and Call, other seniors continuing their athletic careers in college include Jenicah Brown, who will play soccer and lacrosse at Cazenovia, and Shyanne Lewis, who will play basketball and lacrosse at Jefferson Community College.