By Maria Haydee Harley- Staff Writer
It’s been a little over a year since the student-athletes of Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus received some of the most shocking news of their lives. The university announced that it would combine the athletic programs at the campuses of Post and Brooklyn beginning this academic year. In doing so, all LIU teams would now compete in NCAA’s Division I Northeast Conference.
But news of the merger hit Brooklyn Campus students hard. All student- athletes who played outdoor sports –– and were attending classes –– in Brooklyn, with the exception of those in golf and softball, were relocated to the Post campus.
Many student-athletes went in different directions with the change. Some transferred to Post and to other universities. Others decided to stay in Brooklyn, even if it meant saying goodbye to their sports and losing their scholarships. A few others even dropped their studies in the U.S. and returned to their home countries.
The plan was suddenly announced in Fall 2019. Many student-athletes say they were not informed about the merger until LIU issued a post on Twitter. The news generated an immediate, mostly negative, response from across the Brooklyn Campus.
As part of the change, LIU formally ended its Blackbird history and began a new chapter as the Sharks. The Athletics Department did not respond to requests for comment about the aftermath of the merger. But concern over the sudden change, and the impact on individual students, has been more intense amongstudent-athletes. And while no officialpoll has been taken, Seawanhaka has found that a number of students who are still remain bitter. “I was mad and frustrated that I wasn’t going to be able to study and play soccer at the place I applied for. It took me several months to make my decision, but I chose to go to Post because I felt I had no other options,” said Sarah Borer, who had played soccer at the Brooklyn Campus and now does so at the Post campus.
A former men’s soccer 2018 NEC champion, Daniel Quirós, who is currently majoring in business administration, says the merger was one of the worst things that happened to him. He had no other choice but to stay in Brooklyn without playing for a Division I school.
“The coach from Post and I had amisunderstanding on the first meetingdue to the big emotions we were all experiencing. The next meeting, he told me it was not going to work between us, which meant that I should not go to Post.... even though I was a starter atalmost every game [in 2018],” he said.
While the merger of the athletic programs was the reason Quirós had to quit collegiate soccer, he says that staying in Brooklyn was the best decision he could have made. “I miss playing soccer and being a Division I student-athlete, but I’m glad I didn’t go to Post,” he adds. “I’ve had people tell me that they hate it there and honestly I would rather live in the city.”
Back To Sweden
Other student-athletes were not as lucky. Sara Ringsby, who was in her junior year and studying health science while playing for the women’s soccer team at the Brooklyn Campus last year, gave up her studies at LIU.
After carrying a knee injury for almost a year, the announcement gave her no option but to go back to her hometown in Sweden. “I had one year left to graduate in Brooklyn, but by going to Post I had to stay longer as not all of my credits would transfer....plus, I still could not play due to my injury, so it was not worth it,” Ringsby said. “I was not going to be provided an adequate health care for my injury considering I would no longer be an athlete. So, I had no other choice but to go back to Sweden.”
Regardless of the difficult choicesencountered due to the merger of athletic programs, Ringsby says she made the right decision concerning her future and medical care, even if it left a bitter taste. “I know I made the best decision for myself, although every day I miss all the friends I made in Brooklyn, as well as living in the city.” Ringsby is currently working as a bartender and plans to return to college in Sweden in January.
One Team and The Lingering Divide
As the Sharks, the women’s soccer teamfinished its 2019 season with a 5-12 win-loss record and one tie. Even as the team looks ahead to the 2020 season, some players remain disgruntled about the change that took place to begin with.
Last year, the now-former LIU women’s soccer head coach Eleri Earnshaw told Seawanhaka that after the merger was announced, there was so much of an emotional response among student-athletes that many coaches were suddenly placed into the role of therapists. “We have to remind athletes that there is more to this than what we feel right now, remind them that everything will be okay,” she said.
Borer, a forward for the women’s soccerteam, remains very dissatisfied with lifeat Post. “I am in the middle of nowhere and I don’t have a car, which is the only way to go anywhere in this place,” she said in a recent interview. “I do not like it or enjoy it at all.”
Even as she tries to adjust to her new campus, Borer says that she is actively working on plans to transfer to anothercollege. “[Brooklyn] was the place Ichose to be when I applied and it was taken away from me.”