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In the past few weeks, the entire sports world has been turned upside down and nearly completely halted. From major sports like the NBA and NHL to high school sports, everything has been affected by COVID-19.
Obviously, this doesn’t exclude Slippery Rock and the rest of the PSAC, which followed suit and decided to cancel all spring sports. Among those sports is softball, a team with only one senior: four-year starter Alexa Guglielmino.
For Guglielmino, this isn’t the first life changing thing to happen to her in less than a year. In August of 2019, her father was diagnosed with brain cancer and has been battling since. Because of this, Guglielmino had the dilemma of whether or not to come back to school to play out her senior season.
“When it did happen I wasn’t sure what to do, I didn’t know whether I should come back or whether I should proceed with staying at home, but my family wanted me to come back because they knew I had worked so hard for this moment,” Guglielmino said. “I just knew that with them behind me every step of the way, that it would make the decision to come back and pursue my senior year easy.”
Guglielmino is originally from Connecticut, which is just a little over eight hours from Slippery Rock. But her decision to come to The Rock turned out to be a good one as she earned the right to start in as a freshman. Before entering her senior season, she had already started 118 games and appeared in 119.
“[The coronavirus situation] was very shocking and kind of unbelievable to be honest, you never think anything like this is going to happen and I’m just still in shock right now as I try to figure out what the next steps are,” Guglielmino said.
The news that the season was going to be cancelled came while the team was on their annual Spring Break trip to Florida where they play games to prepare for the season.
“I wanted to make sure that [the team] was hearing things from me as quickly and as soon as possible, because news gets out fast and the hard thing was trying to stay ahead of it and make sure they were getting good information,” SRU softball coach Stacey Rice said.
Getting the information to the team was a little easier, because they were all together and she said that when the Ivy League cancelled their spring sports, they felt that it was coming.
“When it came down to the final four games and the last two days there, I said to them, ‘Alright, hey guys, let’s kind of treat these last two days like it’s our final games of the season,’” Rice said. “We always talk about how you never know when your last game is or your four years go by so fast and we always kind of say that and I don’t think everyone believes it, but this is one of those teachable moments where you can show them that life sometimes throws us curveballs but you can handle it with grace, respect and a proper attitude.”
The positive attitude is something that Rice didn’t have to teach Guglielmino and something she loves about her.
“When it comes to staying positive, that’s all you can do because it’s out of our control; I have a strong foundation with my family and we have a strong faith, and we know that in these situations that there’s always going to be a brighter outcome on the other side,” Guglielmino said.
Currently, Guglielmino is looking at all sorts of options and she desires to come back for a fifth year and play out her senior season.
“I have been looking into it, possibly doing a year of graduate school and then potentially becoming a graduate assistant depending on which department, whether it’s in my communication department, with my coach or with athletics in general,” Guglielmino said. “It’s a waiting game right now, because we’re still waiting for classes to start again, and I’m trying to process everything and make sure I’m taking one step at a time and focusing on my undergraduate degree because that’s what’s most important right now.”
Throughout her career, Guglielmino has been a reliable player at the plate and in the field, as her freshman season was her worst season with a batting average of .216. Her sophomore and junior years, she took giant leaps, however, batting .319 and .241 respectively. With the season cut short this year, she was only able to bat 45 times and had ten hits and three walks.
Although Guglielmino was the only senior heading into this season, she wanted to make sure no one on the team took that as it was all about her.
“I wanted to make sure that the underclassmen knew they could look at me as an equal, and I think that’s the most important thing when you’re in that leadership role: you want to guide and help,” Guglielmino said.
When sports were shut down around the country, late-night Sportscenter host Scott Van Pelt started a segment called “Senior Night” to honor the seniors in college and high school sports who had their seasons cancelled. He made the announcement on Twitter and had people tweet stories at him and among those stories were Alexa’s, which was tweeted by Rock Athletics.
“It’s a dream come true to even be tweeted about, that was very surreal and I was very excited to see that when Jon Holtz told me that there was a little chatter about the tweet,” Guglielmino said. “And if this can get my dad’s story out there and show everyone that regardless of the situation and regardless of what you’re going through, you can handle it with grace.”
On the first night of the segment, Alexa was included in the picture on the wall in the background of Van Pelt, and she hopes that her story does eventually get told on Sportscenter.
“If it eventually gets on Sportscenter, that would be absolutely insane and I don’t think I’d know what to do. And hopefully, it does, because it would another way to inspire people that can get through things as well,” Guglielmino said.