SCHENECTADY — IreLee Ferguson and Corina Lindsay, the Union College women’s basketball program’s co-captains and only seniors, didn’t get to play any games in their final college basketball season.
Last weekend, though, they were able to wear their school’s uniform one last time.
The Union program put together a full senior day celebration for Ferguson and Lindsay. It was Lindsay’s request that the senior duo and roommates would wear their uniforms for the ceremony, but they didn’t know much of what their team had planned for them last Saturday morning. When they headed onto the basketball court at Viniar Athletic Center and saw their teammates had organized into two lines they could walk through, like when the club’s starting lineup is announced, the emotion of the morning hit the two seniors.
“The waterworks immediately started,” Lindsay said earlier this week. “I wasn’t expecting to cry that soon, that fast.”
Union’s athletic programs haven’t competed since early last spring season because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Union teams are able to start competing later this month, but the women’s basketball team’s season closed last Saturday with its final practice, which became Ferguson’s and Lindsay’s senior day.
“They’ve been so amazing,” said Jared Zeidman, who serves as associate head coach for head coach Mary Ellen Burt’s program. “We just thought it would be a really cool way to send them off.”
After Ferguson and Lindsay walked through the lines of their teammates, they watched as a video tribute played that included messages from their families, as well as current and former teammates.
The way their coaches and teammates made their final day with the team a special one served as a reminder for Ferguson and Lindsay why they, as seniors majoring in neuroscience and biology, respectively, felt so strongly that they needed to stay with their team this school year despite their playing careers effectively being over.
“We just are such a close-knit family. It’s an extended family,” Lindsay said. “I couldn’t imagine not having that.”
Ferguson said it was never a thought not to participate this year with her team despite non-contact practices being the extent of what the club was allowed to do. The program gave the seniors so much, and they needed to make sure they were there for their younger teammates.
“As captains, we just wanted to make sure every practice was focused on what we could do culturally,” Ferguson said.
More education is in the future for both Ferguson and Lindsay after this school year. Lindsay plans to apply to physician assistant programs, while Ferguson plans to attend medical school after gaining some professional experience for a year or two.
Programs in the area have grappled with how to handle senior-day festivities during this winter season, with some teams not playing any games and others playing, but without any fans in attendance. The Union men’s basketball team, for example, held a small ceremony for its seniors, but is hoping to conduct a larger event in honor of its seniors later this year, if conditions allow for such an event to take place.
Zeidman said the team held last weekend’s ceremony to make sure Ferguson and Lindsay understood how valuable their contributions had been to the program. There were no wins or losses to be had during the 2020-21 season for the Union women’s basketball team, but the program made gains that their seniors helped make possible.
“I’m not sure how the team would have functioned without the two of them,” Zeidman said.