Local college notebook: For spring seniors, returning not always easy

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it (playing baseball). It’s shaped who I am today,” said DSU infielder Tommy Jordan. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Tommy Jordan can’t imagine his life without baseball.

So having his playing career end a few months prematurely was a pretty devastating blow for the Milford High grad and Delaware State infielder.

“Oh man, it was probably the saddest news of my life, just to be honest,” said the senior. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it (playing baseball). It’s shaped who I am today.

“It’s put people in my life who have taught me things about way more than just baseball. It’s given me all my friends. Knowing that I can’t step out there again with the people that I love to go out there with, it’s a heart-breaking moment.”

All of which makes the news that the NCAA is giving spring-sports athletes an extra season of eligibility a pretty exciting thing for seniors like Jordan.

Getting back a season they lost to the coronavirus pandemic seems like a good thing for everyone, right? And in a lot of ways it is.

But it’s also a very complicated thing, in some ways.

Tommy Jordan

Schools now have to come up with another school year of funding for the extra-season athletes. The NCAA waiver allows schools to self-fund seniors at the same or reduced levels in 2021.

Many spring student-athletes receive only partial scholarships, too.

Some schools have already told spring seniors that they won’t be bringing them back.

“What we tried to do was encourage our seniors to go ahead and, if you’re going to graduate, graduate and move on with your life,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said last week. “We appreciate everything that you’ve done. But move forward. The future is in question, and we can’t promise you anything.”

The news that the NCAA is giving spring-sports athletes an extra season of eligibility is a pretty exciting thing for seniors like Tommy Jordan. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Delaware State said in a statement this week that it’s coaches are talking to their spring seniors to see what’s best for them.

“This is thoughtful legislation because it allows institutions to tailor their approach to each student-athlete, program and budget,” DSU athletic director Scott Gines said in the press release. “The very best thing a student-athlete can invest in is their career and their future.

“The same is true of Delaware State University, and we are simply shaping that pursuit within the goals of each student-athlete, program and budget.”

J.P. Blandin

DelState baseball coach J.P. Blandin has four players on his roster who’s playing careers would be over without the NCAA waiver. There’s some others who are also in position to finish up.

“I think with every individual it’s different,” said Blandin. “Obviously they’re coming to college to get a degree and to prepare them for life first. … The fact that they have the possibility to play another year still has to work out their plans first.”

But Blandin also thinks that the NCAA is giving seniors some options.

“I feel like they were robbed of their senior season, just like these high school kids,” he said. “They’re out there grinding for four years. They’re brothers. All of the guys I talked so far are pretty committed to coming back and getting that fourth full year.”

The University of Delaware hasn’t announced any blanket policy toward spring seniors. But at least four Blue Hen seniors have already announced they plan to return.

Deciding to come back wasn’t difficult for Jordan. The 22-year-old mass communications major was slated to return for the fall semester to finish his degree anyway.

But he has one friend who will have to be a graduate student if he returns.

“He has to figure out how to get his masters and figure out what he wants to apply for,” said Jordan. “It’s kind of like, you’ve got to make a big life decision within a week.”

All Jordan knows is that he’s already looking forward to playing some more baseball next spring.

This time he’ll go into his final season with a little different perspective.

“We all know what it’s like to have it taken away from us now,” said Jordan. “It literally can happen whenever. I’ve already talked to some of the guys. We all want just want it (next season) to be here already.

“The fact that I can go back and make one more run for a conference championship is kind of amazing.”

Hornet named All-American

Delaware State’s Alexis Neuer became the first Hornet named a first-team All-American bowler this week.

The senior was one of only five bowlers selected to the first team by the National Tenpin Coaches Association. Last month. Neuer was named the MEAC Bowler of the Year for the second time in the last three years.

“I’m extremely honored and humbled to be listed among the best in the nation and represent Delaware State bowling this season,” Neuer said. “This is a great reward for all the work I put in to be a more complete bowler this season. I’m grateful for my college experience and looking forward to the next steps in my career.”

Neuer will graduate from DSU with a degree in electrical engineering this spring, and says she has received an offer for a position in the field. In addition, she plans to sign a contract with the Professional Women’s Bowling Association and a sponsorship deal with a ball company.

Dover High basketball standout Elijah Allen signs his letter of intent for his scholarship from Wagner College this week. With schools closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Allen signed his paperwork at his family’s Dover home. Submitted photo

Notes

• The Delaware State men’s basketball program has added Dominik Fragala, a junior college transfer who started his career at Niagara. The 6-foot guard played at Howard College last winter.

• Delaware’s women’s basketball team signed Mar Tejedor, a shooting guard from Barcelona, Spain.

“She’s a scorer, competitor and has the will to win,” said Hens’ coach Natasha Adair. “Her international experience and exposure will allow her to come in and have an immediate impact on our success.”

• The Delaware field hockey team is bringing in three more international players among the recruiting class of nine players it announced this week.

The signees include Berber Bakermans (The Netherlands), Martina Carrazzoni (Argentina), Julia Duffhuis (The Netherlands), Emma Gladstein (Sykesville, Md.), Kathryn Hoffman (Ellicott City, Md.), Riley McDonald (Easton, Pa.), Adison Moore (Centreville, Va.) and Eve Vickery (Pasadena, Md.).

“All of them have the following personalities and qualities: intense desire to compete and being the best they can be; an understanding of team work and play, and commitment to creating opportunities for themselves through experiences, finding ways, being creative and seeing things through,” said Blue Hens’ coach Rolf van de Kerkhof.