EDITOR’S NOTE: Patrick Mortensen, from Chatham, N.J., is a senior member of St. Lawrence University’s men’s cross country and track and field teams. This is one in a series of first-person stories about coping with COVID-19, written by members of the SLU athletic community and posted on the university’s web site.
For the senior student-athletes at St. Lawrence and around the country, the toughest part of the whole COVID-19 ordeal is that there was no sense of closure on their athletics careers. There would be no final home game or senior day recognition for all the sacrifices they made throughout their athletic careers.
Many, including myself, felt frustrated and confused that something which we have poured (our) soul into could be taken away so quickly. I can assure you though, there will be a moment of closure if you have not already had it.
My moment of closure occurred when I was packing up my locker for the final time. For as many tears as I shed and for how difficult it was to remove my belongings from the locker, I had a strange feeling of comfort knowing that I did everything to be the best runner I could be throughout my career at St. Lawrence. I was leaving with no regrets, which is something I value more than any medal I’ve received or any personal best that I have set.
For the student-athletes that have another season or another few years left in their careers at St. Lawrence: aim to leave St. Lawrence with no regrets because the pain of regret is far worse than the pain of trying your hardest to achieve a goal and coming up short. I know this first hand.
In the final race of St. Lawrence career, I was about 10 seconds away from earning All-America honors, a personal goal that I pursued relentlessly throughout my time at St. Lawrence.
I ran over 10,000 miles in four years, which is the equivalent of running from Canton, New York, to Melbourne, Australia. I did thousands of push-ups, hours of core and made countless sacrifices throughout my time here. As agonizingly close as I was to achieving that goal, I take pride in the fact I tried so hard and came up short. Instead of leaving St. Lawrence asking myself “What could I have achieved?” or “What if I took running more seriously?”, I know deep down that I did everything in order to be the best version of myself.
Though this was not the end that I had imagined, I am so incredibly grateful to have been able to represent St. Lawrence. I was fortunate to have a coaching staff which supported my goals and did everything to help me achieve them. I was fortunate to have teammates who shared the same passion for the sport I did and who will be lifelong friends. And I was fortunate to have spent four years in a place that I can call home. Not many people can say that.
Before every race, we receive our final instructions from Coach (John) Newman in our pre-race huddle, then we chant “JOUST” before heading back to the starting line. Not many know the significance behind this tradition, but the word “joust” is derived from the Latin word “juxta” which means “beside, next to, very near.”
We aim to be next to each other from start to finish. That is the Laurentian spirit: being there for each other from start to finish, through the highs and lows which come along throughout the journey.
These are tough times that we are all enduring, but I am certain that we will get through this together.