Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 12 No. 5 | May 2020

20 Inside Hokie Sports Sitting on the couch in her living room at the family home in Kingston, New York, Olivia Lattin often found herself deep in thought, and maybe even to a certain extent, stressing over her current situation. Already armed with a finance degree, the Virginia Tech softball standout spent a portion of each day this spring wrapping up coursework toward a management degree, while going back and forth on whether to return for another season—her sixth at Tech. Should she do that and go after a master’s degree, or pursue much-desired job opportunities? “Yes, uncertainty is crazy right now,” Lattin said. “It drives me crazy. I’m a very goal-oriented, scheduled, day-by-day routine person. Now, the unknown is frustrating, and it’s scary.” Though with good intentions at heart, NCAA officials threw a wrench into the plans of many seniors like Lattin. The college sports governing body canceled its winter and spring sports championships because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it granted an extra year of eligibility to all spring sport student-athletes. Pending the school, seniors were left to decide between coming back for another year or starting their careers in the workforce. Lattin chose the latter, informing Tech softball coach Pete D’Amour on April 27 that she wanted to take the next step in life and begin a career, thus putting all her energies in that endeavor. With finance and management degrees, along with a previous summer internship at a local bank in her hometown, on her resume, she figures to have a variety of options. Her decision certainly makes sense. Lattin tore the ACL in her knee just three games into her senior season last year and elected to take a redshirt year. She went through grueling rehab sessions just to get back on the field this spring. She played in 23 games in her final season before the ACC—and all other conferences—pulled the plug. Now, she’s ready to take a different route with her life—and takes 187 career starts with her. “Last year, after I got hurt, I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to come back,’” Lattin said. “Now it’s gotten to the point where I ask myself, ‘Do I just want to move on?’ I’m still looking for jobs … I’m still waiting, not for the perfect job, but one that’s going to benefit me. I don’t want to jump into something that I don’t want.” Her decision represented a contrast to that of Mary Clare McCarthy, a defender on the lacrosse team from Washington, D.C. Tech head coach John Sung wanted her to come back, and McCarthy—who has played in 35 games in her career, with 16 starts (including nine in 2020)—agreed to do so. However, her decision required major adjusting of her future plans. McCarthy, who graduated with a degree in finance, had a job lined up with Accenture, a financial services firm, in her hometown, and she was set to start in August. “I accepted my offer with Accenture in the beginning of February,” McCarthy said. “I was so excited. I was moving home back to D.C., and I was supposed to start in August, but when we were given a fifth year, it was such a unique opportunity. So I emailed the HR [human resources] lady and asked if I could defer for a year and pursue a master’s degree [at Tech] and see through my lacrosse career. They were super flexible and are allowing me to do that. “That’s what pushed me to come back. I’ll still have a job lined up, and lacrosse is just such a big part of my life. I want to be able to have closure with something that I love doing so much … I couldn’t give up that opportunity to play again.” McCarthy certainly has been fortunate. She received the additional year from the NCAA, and her future employer showed graciousness in letting her defer her appointment for a year. Plus, she gets to pursue a master’s degree in information technology to add to her finance to degree—and her master’s program only takes a year to complete. “It’s awesome,” McCarthy said of her situation. “I won’t have to be here another year (most master’s degree programs take two years to complete). I’ll have it all done. I’ll finish my lacrosse career at the same time I finish my master’s.” The COVID-19 pandemic certainly messed with Mitch Harper’s plans—yet another detour toward his goal of playing professional tennis. Actually, the Hokies’ top men’s tennis player fully expected to be on the professional circuit by now, but the 22-year-old missed all of last season while undergoing two wrist surgeries and took a redshirt year. He returned to the court in perfect shape this spring and was undefeated in singles play at the time the ACC canceled the remainder of the seasons for all spring sports. In fact, he hadn’t been taken to three sets in any match, and he looked forward to a potentially long run at the NCAA Singles Championships before heading off to the professional ranks. “I was devastated,” Harper said of the cancelation of the season. “It’s been a long road for me. Last year, I ended up redshirting. I put a lot into coming back this year. I started the year great. I was undefeated up until the announcement, so it was really devastating. Just to put all that work into coming back and have it taken away from you again, it was really tough for me to deal with.” Harper contemplated turning pro this summer—but no one knows when professional tennis (or any other sport) will resume. There seems to be uncertainty with future international travel schedules, too. For example, his native Australia continues to mull a ban on international flights until 2021. So rather than go home and run the risk of not being able to travel anywhere, Harper elected to stay in Blacksburg, and in a day and age of GROUP OF TECH SENIORS The NCAA’s decision to give spring sport student-athletes an additional year has forced many seniors to juggle their future plans by Jimmy Robertson WEIGHING OPTIONS Mary Clare M c Carthy