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  • Ashton Jimenez

Optimistic in Uncertainty: Kate Sramac

Four months ago the Cornell community was shaken when all students were sent home as the coronavirus breached US borders, a pandemic that has shifted 2020 in ways no one expected. It was a longer summer at home than anyone could have imagined. For Cornell athletes, this brought unprecedented challenges and anticipation for what the future held in the world of college athletics. Star of the Cornell Women’s Basketball team and rising senior Kate Sramac experienced these new obstacles and uncertainty amid this global crisis from her family’s home in Pittsburgh.

Over the past three years, Sramac has played a dominant role in the Cornell Women’s Basketball team. During this past year, her junior year, she led Cornell in both steals and assists, as well as posting the team’s highest 3-point shooting percentage at 34%. Among the entire Ivy League, she ranked second in steals per game and seventh in assists per game. As a regular in the starting lineup, Sramac contributes superb defensive skills and a playmaker mentality. Unfortunately, she, like many of Cornell’s rising senior athletes, may never experience the culmination of her athletic career with a senior season.

While the team’s 2019-20 season was not cut short, next season’s fate is still undecided. Despite the Ivy League’s announcement that all sports competitions are canceled for the fall semester, there may be hope for Women’s Basketball. As a winter sport, their future will be decided at a later date. Even before this announcement, the uncertainty weighed on Sramac.

Being a senior, it’s sad. I honestly try not to think about it too much, because then I get wrapped up in all of the possibilities that could or could not be true. I have tried to stay on course and just do my thing. It’s been stressful not knowing, having that uncertainty this entire time. For some people, it may not seem as big of a deal. But as a senior, I recognize that this is it. It’s very sad to think about it.

Despite the numerous struggles associated with this pandemic, like the uncertainty of winter and spring sports, some positive opportunities have arisen from it. For Kate and the Women’s Basketball team, these difficult circumstances have led to more communication and bonding opportunities.

We normally have one weekly team Zoom with the staff and everyone. Each class decides on a game we should play for each Zoom. We have played online games like Scribble.io and Kahoot, and other games like a virtual scavenger hunt through our house. It’s been fun for people to tap into their creative side and do stuff as a team that isn’t basketball related.

In addition to the team mentally supporting each other during these virtual meetings, they have been creative with workouts. The team sends pictures and videos of exercises to each other as another way of staying connected. With the team trainer’s help, COVID-19 has not stalled Sramac’s preparation for the next season.

It’s been a challenge to adjust to no facilities or equipment available. Still, it’s something we’re able to handle because of our staff. Our trainer has been giving us a combination of bodyweight and minimal equipment workouts. I have some dumbbells around the house, and my brother has a weighted vest, which has been helpful. There has also been a lot of running. The one park near my house wasn’t shut down; that’s been nice for running around and getting some sprints in.

During this unconventional off-season, Sramac is not only dedicated to staying in top physical shape but also discovering alternative ways to play the game. Fortunately, Sramac only needs a ball to get some practice in, especially with the help of her close by 1-1 partner.

I have been doing a lot of dribbling. Most public hoops are shut down, or the rims are taken off. Luckily, I have a hoop in my backyard. It’s a small area, but it’s been nice to get out there and shoot. Also, my younger brother plays basketball with his friends. He’s 6’3″, so whenever we play 1-1, it is definitely a challenge to get shots off without him blocking them. That’s been fun, it takes me back to when we were kids and would play in the backyard. It’s been nice to reconnect with that part of my childhood.

In addition to her reminiscent basketball practices, Sramac has kept busy during the quarantine in a few different ways. For example, she started working for Doordash as a fun way to make some money, and has also binged the quarantine hits Tiger King, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, and, of course, The Last Dance.

I watched the Jordan documentary. My coaches said, “If you aren’t watching [The Last Dance], why are you playing basketball.” I think many people needed that, and everyone was excited to have something to look forward to. I’m glad they released it early. I thought it was really well done.

While she has been able to keep busy during the quarantine, Kate Sramac will soon be returning to Ithaca and is hopeful for a senior basketball season. However, even if games cannot happen, she knows she will be able to continue to make memories with the people who have made her last three years so special..

I really want to enjoy the journey and focus on making memories with my teammates and coaches. I’m looking forward to having that experience and getting to go on that ride together. This will be my last year, and I really hope it happens. I’m looking forward to spending time with everyone and playing basketball every day with my best friends.

As Sramac reminisces on her successful run so far with the Cornell Women’s Basketball program, she, along with the rest of us, remains hopeful for her senior season. She looks forward to making many more memories in her last year but also hopes she has the opportunity to lead her team back to the Ivy League tournament. While fall sports in the Ivy League will not occur, we can only hope for a return to competition and the chance to see Sramac shine in her fourth and final year as a Big Red athlete.

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