For Love of the Game
Accomplished player aspires to new goals.
WHEN JESSICA D’AURIA, then a junior on the Maine Maritime Academy volleyball team, lifted the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Championship trophy above her head on November 9, 2019, she never imagined she might have just played her final competitive volleyball match for the Mariners inside of Margaret Chase Smith Gymnasium.
As things began to unfold around the globe with the COVID-19 pandemic, and knowing the 2020 spring athletic season had already been impacted and cut short earlier in the year, D’Auria started to understand the potential of the pandemic’s impact on her senior season.
“I was pretty distraught after finding out (that competition would be suspended this year), it felt like my heart had been ripped out. It was hard hearing that information because it is my senior year and I had all of these big hopes and aspirations and things that I wanted to accomplish this season.”
D’Auria had a tremendously successful career on the court for the Mariners leading up to her senior season. The Hopewell Junction, New York native has been part of three championship teams that traveled to three NCAA Tournaments, she earned NAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2017, and continued to garner honors throughout her career, but this season team and individual success have taken different forms.
“Athletics has been a safe space for me this year. I just get to think about playing volleyball.”
“I had a lot of personal goals for this season. I wanted to be the NAC Player of the Year, and now that I can’t do that I have put my effort into helping the freshmen become adjusted,” said D’Auria. “I feel like I am helping out a lot more in different ways this season. My role has evolved into a bigger leadership position.”
“Without the chance to compete this season, my biggest goal for our team is to become a strong cohesive unit,” said D’Auria. “The pandemic makes it hard to do team activities, or even just hang out, because we are all so separated and we can’t do team events as easily.”
But D’Auria is happy to to escape the stress and challenges of being a college student in the middle of a global pandemic.
“Athletics has been a safe space for me this year,” added D’Auria. “When I arrive at practice I have two hours where I do not have to think about anything else, about the assignments due, I just get to think about playing volleyball.”█
—By Riana Sidelinger
Photo: mariners athletics