By Jay Bendlin
The coronavirus swept the nation this past spring, canceling many spring sports and sending hundreds of athletes home with no season. With so many question marks involving the virus and the fall season around the corner, one soccer player is training through the uncertainty.
Senior Kaio DaSilva was ready to leave his mark on UAlbany in one last season. With graduation in mind for December, DaSilva hoped to go out with a bang.
Despite officially being a defender, DaSilva can be found on any part of the field. In his first two seasons with the Great Danes, DaSilva tallied six goals and six assists. When starting as a sophomore at UAlbany, Kaio DaSilva played more of a defensive role zooming from one side to another, but as his speed began to show, he began to play where he belongs; in enemy territory, outrunning their defenders.
As DaSilva gained more playing time (playing in all 17 games in 2019) and got a better understanding of his role with the Great Danes, he began to gain momentum. The momentum he was hoping to bring into the 2020 season.
“I feel like I didn’t reach my potential,” said DaSilva. “The last semester should be the best semester.”
DaSilva had planned on running Track and Field this past spring under Puerto Rican Olympic coach Roberto Vives. Despite the NCAA honoring the lost eligibility, for DaSilva, it is an experience lost as he will graduate this coming December.
“I never got to make my debut.” DaSilva said, “but I still took a lot away from training with Coach Vives and that group because there were many great athletes and a very great coach.”
With the coronavirus claiming more lives every day, large sporting events are seeming less and less likely to occur. With new announcements and postponements every day, motivation is hard to come by.
“For myself, I’ve tried to keep the same mentality as if we were training to compete because there are so many unknowns with what’s to come,” DaSilva said. “That’s what I’ve been telling myself as well as keeping a structure, that’s what athletes live off of; the structure of training.”
With gyms and fields closed or with minimal capacity, the ease of use for facilities on campus can’t be met while at home. One of the hardest parts of training at home is staying accountable when it takes more effort to get the training in. “There is no one else holding your accountable but yourself,” stressed DaSilva.
Luckily when quarantine first started, DaSilva had someone else to keep him accountable. His cousin on the Memphis 901 FC, a professional team in Memphis, Tennessee. The excursion in March was intended to be a short five-day trip to watch a game and reacquaint with his cousin whom he doesn’t see often but with the sudden restrictions, it turned into a seven-week quarantine.
“I was very blessed to be with my cousin,” DaSilva said. “Obviously things happened very quickly and we had to adjust. I was blessed to have a good situation with him, I tried to take advantage of the opportunity. I was living with him for the first time and it was a different experience, we used that to stay strong during the quarantine. We were trying to maintain fitness because we didn’t know if his league was going to come back or if our spring sports would come back.”
Through the experience in Memphis and current events, DaSilva has grown to realize one thing is the most important of all, gratitude.
While many families might be growing irritated with each other, being forced to stay indoors for longer periods of time, the DaSilva clan is the opposite.
DaSilva says he truly appreciates the time with his family because late July would be around the time when he would report to Albany to prepare for the season.
“My family and where I am from is the single greatest driving force for my aspirations,” DaSilva said. Those before me had nowhere near the opportunities I have and I will never forget that.”
On July 7th, the Ivy League announced their postponement on all fall sports.
Although UAlbany announced they will be anticipating a combination of in-person and online learning for the fall, it is possible that we see a pattern of canceled seasons and a move to online learning for the fall semester.
With an ideal living situation with his teammates, DaSilva is itching to return to campus but respects whatever decision the university decides.
According to DaSilva, “If the America East and UAlbany follow suit then we will have to respect their decision because they feel it is unsafe to the players.”
With a second wave imminent, only time will tell DaSilva and his fellow Great Danes will be able to play again.
If sports were to be canceled DaSilva stated that he would finish his last semester and graduate as his family’s first college graduate. This will be a feat that will be celebrated with, or without a soccer season.