Boris Tsang/Sun Photography Editor

Senior pitcher Seth Urbon battled back from a torn rotator cuff only to see his season end prematurely due to COVID-19.

April 1, 2020

‘I Didn’t Rehab 9 Months for This’: A Cornell Athlete’s Lament Goes Viral

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When senior pitcher Seth Urbon first learned that the Ivy League had canceled his season, he was speechless. But when he did find his voice, he was heard across the internet in the form of a tweet that quickly went viral.

His message was succinct: “I didn’t rehab 9 months for this,” he quote-tweeted the Ivy League’s press release announcing that all spring sports would end in March. As of April 1, his tweet had almost 35,000 likes and over 2,100 retweets.

Urbon tore his rotator cuff last April and had been working ever since to get back on the field, continuing his rehab into the 2020 season.

“It was just kind of one of those things, an instant reaction. It’s not like I was mad at anyone,” Urbon said of the tweet. “It’s just more of a disappointment — I spent the last nine months to a year in the training room every day … [The tweet] was kind of just, throwing it out there, and I guess it gained traction a lot more than I thought it was going to.”

Though rumors had been flying regarding a suspension of the season, Cornell baseball officially learned that its year was over in the locker room during what would have been Wednesday afternoon practice. Urbon knew something was amiss when the coaching staff told the team not to dress for warmups.

“For 10 or 15 minutes, it was almost hard for me to talk, to anyone say anything to anyone,” Urbon said. “It was just kind of a somber feeling in the locker room.”

Just the day before, the team had received assurances that its trip down to Virginia for a three-game set at the Virginia Military Institute was still going to happen.

Urbon transferred to Cornell after redshirting his freshman year at Georgia Tech, meaning he already had an extra year of NCAA eligibility. The NCAA recently announced that all spring athletes will receive another year of eligibility for the foregone 2020 season — but for Ivy League athletes, playing another year isn’t as simple as just becoming eligible for a bonus season.

“I want to [take advantage of the added eligibility], it’s just part of the issue is financially, it might be too hard for a lot of Ivy League athletes,” Urbon said.

Of course, the Ivy League is one of the few NCAA Division I conferences that prohibits the allocation of athletic scholarships. So, for players like Urbon, who hopes to pursue his master’s of engineering, playing another season also means paying another year’s tuition.

The Ivy League was the first conference to cancel the remainder of the spring season — a gut punch to athletes who were holding out hope that — despite the ever-growing threat of COVID-19 — their seasons might somehow be salvaged. Rather than suspending the season until further notice, the Ivy League canceled all games outright.

“At first I guess the first response, you kind of think that things aren’t as bad as they are,” Urbon said. “I guess in my perspective, I would have hoped maybe for like a delay of the season where they say, ‘Okay we’ll reevaluate in three weeks.’”

“But, even by the next day, most other conferences had also canceled,” he continued. “When you’re the first conference to do it, it seems a little aggressive, but once everyone starts to follow suit, it’s a little easier to swallow … We understand the severity of everything.”

The Ivy League led the way when it came to sports cancellations. It was on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 11 when spring sports were canceled for the Ancient Eight. The next evening, all NCAA games — for both winter and spring — were canceled.

Urbon picked up the save in Cornell’s lone win of the year against Niagara on March 1. Before its year ended, the Red was 1-8 on the season after playing college baseball powerhouses like Duke and South Carolina to start off the spring. Ivy play would have commenced against Princeton on March 21.