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After Six Sports Programs Are Cut, Student Athletes Must Decide Whether To Return To St. Ed's

Luis Diaz Argente plays tennis
Courtesy of Luis Diaz Argente
Luis Diaz Argente, a third-year international student, came to the U.S. to play tennis at St. Edward's University.

College junior Luis Diaz Argente was at home in Madrid last Wednesday when he got a message from his tennis coach.

“We need to have a meeting right now," Estevam Strecker texted. "And I mean it … right now.”

In a video call, Argente and his teammates learned they no longer had a tennis team to return to at St. Edward’s University.

The school announced Wednesday morning it was eliminating five athletic programs – men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf and men’s soccer – and the cheer team will be transitioned into a club sport funded by the RecWell Department.

"Everyone had the same face. They all were looking at their screens, just listening, but not really listening. They were there, but were not really there."

The “financially sound decision" was made because of hardships from the coronavirus pandemic, Debbie Taylor, associate vice president for athletics, said in an emailed statement. 

The affected students will be able to continue their education at St. Edward’s with their scholarships honored. However, they are required to let the university know by July 1 if they wish to transfer to another school to continue their collegiate athletic careers.

Coach Strecker said he wanted the news to come from him first

“During the Zoom call, when Strecker told us what was happening, I could see the faces of everyone,” Argente said. “Everyone had the same face. They all were looking at their screens, just listening, but not really listening. They were there, but were not really there.”

Argente, a third-year international student studying sports management, said the main reason he came to the U.S. was to play tennis.

“It’s like they say, you know, ‘You only realize how much you have when you lose it,’” he said. “It’s very, very true.”

Argente said he had worked hard during his last two years of high school to be able to play at a college like St. Edward’s.

“My last two years of high school in Madrid were all toward earning the best results possible,” he said. “Lots of studying, lots of practicing, lots of matches … and it paid off, and I couldn’t have been happier.”

Now, he and about 70 other athletes must decide whether to continue their degrees without playing their sports or to transfer to another school so they can once again compete.

Argente said he has to consider the obstacles he may face as a third-year transfer student.

“[An option] is to find another scholarship and see how much they could offer me. And I know that with all this financial crisis, it’s going to be hard,” Argenete said. 

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Credit Courtesy of Luis Diaz Argente
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Courtesy of Luis Diaz Argente
Argente says he's waiting for more information before he makes a decision about whether to return to St. Ed's.

With the spring season ending early, Argente still has two years of eligibility left, meaning he can contine playing tennis at a university for another two years and pursue a fifth year of college. But he could have more difficulty transferring schools than a freshman or sophomore, who are younger in their collegiate careers.

If he had to decide today, Argente said, he would continue his education at St. Edward’s – despite being unable to play tennis.

For now, he's waiting until his coach gathers more information of what’s going on before he starts making serious decisions.

“I prefer not to think about it.” Argente said. “It’s really a shame.”

In addition to worrying about his future and whether he'll see his teammates again, Argente worries for his coach, who is now out of a job.

“It’s funny that [the players] worry about me,” Strecker said, adding that he'll be getting paid for the next few months.

“I may still be in denial," he said, "but the thing that keeps my mind going right now is to make sure that each one of them finds a path in their life that is the best with what they have right now.”

Argente said even if things don’t end well for his collegiate sports career, he is happy he achieved his goal of playing tennis at a university in the U.S.

He says he's counting his blessings and is thankful for what he has in front of him.

“I have friends – their families are in the hospital,” Argente said. “My parents are working in the hospital day and night, and I haven’t seen my dad much in two weeks. So if this is the worst thing that is going to happen, then I actually have to be grateful that nothing more serious happened."
 

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