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College athletes face difficult decisions amid coronavirus outbreak

NCAA committees at Division I, II and III levels have all recommended spring student-athletes get an extra year of athletic eligibility.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Chris Gambert is swinging through the stoppage of his baseball career.

“It feels like a dream, almost every single day, just a dream that just never stops,” Gambert, a senior catcher at Bellarmine, said.

He’s one of many senior student-athletes who could face a difficult decision. NCAA committees at the Division I, II and III levels have all recommended spring student-athletes get an extra year of athletic eligibility due to their seasons being cut short by the coronavirus outbreak.

While many would support that move, it’s not necessarily practical for everyone. Gambert, for example, has already gotten into physical therapy school. Taking part in that and coming back to play baseball would prove to be extremely tough.

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“Am I going to cope with just giving up after 18 years, the way it's ended right now and move on with my life,” Gambert said. “Or do I fight for one more year and have justice to end my career the right way? It's hard for someone to get in that mindset of I got life after college, oh wait, I'm going to push it back one more year."

One of his senior teammates understands. Third baseman Josh Finerty already gave up one season to not just recover from an injury, but also study for the Medical College Admission Test. The University of Kentucky’s medical school has accepted him.

"It's difficult to just call them up and say hey, can you hold my spot one more year,” Finerty said.

It's a sudden balance of a love that consumes like a career.

“I'm only going to be a kid so long,” Finerty said. “And you want to hang onto baseball for as long as you can."

And the reality of steps toward your actual one.

"We want to play baseball,” Gambert said. “That's who we've been for so long. But at the end of the day, there's so much more outside baseball."-=

But what’s everlasting is the lesson.

"It's just going to be a battle scar that you'll be able to put on your plate and keep going,” Gambert said. “It's going to make you stronger for the rest of your life."

"The reason we're doing this and the NCAA is doing this is for the greater good,” Finerty said.

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