Before the NCAA canceled sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, Meagan Maratita was fulfilling her dream of playing softball for Cairn University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With one semester remaining in her college career, she focused on the game, walking to receive her diploma, and living her final days as a student to the fullest.
In late February and early March, before the NCAA issued its ruling, Maratita's Highlanders competed in the Fast-pitch Dream Spring Classic at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The locker rooms and dugouts already were filled with coronavirus chatter. The athletes knew what was coming, and none of them liked it.
Ten days after the tournament, the NCAA canceled the remainder of the season and closed the door on spring sports.
“None of the seniors were ready for it, and we weren’t prepared for our season to end at that moment,” said Maratita, sharing that the team was emotional and visibly disappointed.
As time passed, disappointment changed to compassion, and Maratita began reflecting on accomplishments, friends and family.
“The friendships that I have made is something irreplaceable, and I thank God every day for the many blessings that I have,” said Maratita, a 2015 graduate of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam.
Before leaving the school for good to be with her family in South Carolina, Maratita told The Guam Daily Post that the team enjoyed Senior Day, complete with “flowers, pictures, crying, and all.”
Despite feeling defeated, Senior Day was a small but important victory, she added.
With uncertainty serving as the only constant in the lives of student-athletes all over the world, especially seniors, Maratita is finishing courses online, anxiously wondering how she will be able to earn her student teaching requirements.
After graduation and the easing of travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine, Maratita is excited to return to Guam where she plans to teach elementary school, watch her younger brother Russell William Maratita play high school sports and coach softball at Academy alongside Marissa Maratita, her sister, and Russell Maratita, her dad.
But for now, sheltering in place amid these uncertain times is Meagan Maratita’s only option.
“Everything, now, is just a waiting game,” she said. “Overall, I just want to be with family.”
Across the Pacific, at Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii, Guam’s Destiny Castro and Kali Benavente had just finished their basketball careers and looked forward to graduation.
Castro, a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame High School in Talofofo, broke multiple school records and had a storied career.
Leaving her mark in Chaminade’s record books, Castro’s numbers earned her recognition as one of the Pacific West Conference top players. In her opening campaign, she earned Freshman of the Year honors. As a junior, she earned NCAA D2 All-West regional honors, a first for the Silverswords.
Benavente, a 2016 AOLG graduate who contributed on the court and made her mark in the classroom, felt sorry for seniors who had their seasons cut short.
“I feel for all seniors and athletes participating in ongoing sports that won’t be able to finish this season,” she said.
Reflecting on her collegiate basketball career, Benavente said she enjoyed the process and the relationships the most.
“Being a part of this game at the collegiate level - more than anything - has taught me the importance of seizing opportunities, along with many other life lessons I will continue to carry with me outside the game of basketball,” she said.
Castro, remembering her college career fondly said, “I enjoyed all the friendships that I’ve made and being able to play the game I love at a high caliber.”