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Tiger Voices Carlie Littlefield '21

It felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. I was sitting shoulder to shoulder with my teammates and coaches, like I had done countless times throughout the season, except this time felt much different. Rather than discussing our game plan, going through film, or celebrating a big win, we were awaiting the news on whether or not the rest of our season would be cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. When Mollie entered the room, she didn’t have to say anything. We all knew it was over.

Honestly, I am not usually one to show emotion, especially on the court, but I immediately broke down. I thought about the high expectations we had for ourselves as a team going into postseason and how we were planning on celebrating many more wins together. I thought about how we had gone on our last road trip of the season together, although I didn’t know it was our last at the time. I thought about how we had made what we didn’t know was our last pregame Tik Tok of the season. However, the thought that got me the most was our seniors: I would never get to play another game with them and they had played their last game in a Princeton uniform without knowing it. My heart hurt (and still does as I write this) thinking about our two seniors, the what ifs of post-season, and the abrupt ending of a special season with such a special group of players and coaches.

Now, almost two months removed from that moment in the locker room, I have a whole new perspective on life and my athletic and academic career at Princeton. The spring semester is wrapping up, and while I wish it could’ve taken place on campus, I appreciate the University’s decision to prioritize everyone’s health and well-being. Personally, having virtual lectures, precepts, office hours, and study groups made it very difficult for me to focus and fully grasp the material I was learning. However, I am very grateful for the way all of my professors handled the move to online classes, as they showed my classmates and I grace, continually asking how we and our families were doing. I know how hard leaving campus was for all the professors and faculty at Princeton as well, so watching how they have handled it has allowed me to see the Princeton community’s true colors. From students to professors, faculty, and coaches, we are a tight- knit community that truly cares about each other; one that I am very lucky to be a part of.

Another crucial lesson I’ve begun to live since this pandemic began shaking things up in my life is that you cannot control what happens, but you can control your reaction. Even though I wish I could’ve been doing post season workouts with my teammates and enjoying spring semester with my friends, I have found new, unique ways to stay connected with those important to me during this uncertain time. As a team, we have weekly zoom calls together where we have created a virtual band, played Jeopardy and trivia, and done Yoga together. My friends and I have also utilized zoom to catch up, play other games like virtual Cards Against Humanity, and even celebrate birthdays virtually. I have also realized the importance of having a routine every day to keep myself sane, as I am not used to having so much free time on my hands without the demands of going to in-person classes and practices and lifts. As Princetonians, we were given the choice to either complain and allow the physical distance to disconnect us from one another or to make the best and stay connected, and what I’ve found is that we have chosen the latter and have leaned on one another.

When we are able to return back to campus, I will be a senior ready to soak up every single moment, big and small, remaining of my Princeton career. To team meals, study sessions in Cannon, walks through Prospect Garden, and even writing my thesis, I will not take anything for granted because if I have learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that nothing can substitute experiencing life in person and that nothing is guaranteed. While the rigorous academic and athletic environment that is inherent to Princeton often times causes us all to put our heads down and grind through it, this time away from Princeton has allowed me to feel a wave of gratitude for the Princeton community, the athletic department, and institution as a whole. I cannot wait to get back home.

Carlie Littlefield

Women’s Basketball

Class of 2021