'Dreams are crushed': Local athlete reacts to Ivy League canceling all spring sports

Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 19:18:25-04

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Aaron Shirley, a national champion and state champion hurdler, is used to starting and stopping quickly. However, Wednesday's events even took a toll on him.

"Emotional distress," Shirley, a first-year hurdler for the Harvard University track & field team, told News 3 immediately after the Ivy League, Harvard's conference, unanimously voted to cancel all athletic events through the remainder of the spring semester.

"We had a really emotional meeting," Shirley said hours after learning he would not be allowed to compete in outdoor track & field this season. "All of our coaches were crying. Everyone is so confused. Where do we go from here? We're in shock, mainly. A lot of dreams are crushed. The seniors have to leave without the chance to fight for an indoor title. This is one of the best teams we've had in years."

Shirley, a graduate of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, is packing up and heading home to Virginia. He says his 'swipe card', which gives him access to buildings on campus, will no longer work after 5 p.m. Sunday. Harvard asked its students not to return to campus after Spring Recess and to meet academic requirements remotely. Furthermore, students who need to remain on campus for extenuating circumstances will also receive instruction remotely and must prepare for severely limited on-campus activities and interactions.

"The way the university has handled it is horrible," Shirley said. "We're angry because the university didn't take into account anybody's individual circumstances. Students have to fly across the world with luggage and bags and furniture - in five days."

Last weekend, Shirley placed 3rd in the 400m at the Ivy League Indoor Championships. Harvard's outdoor track & field season was set to begin March 19th at the University of Houston's Cougar Spring Break Invitational.

Related: Speed & smarts: Chesapeake’s Aaron Shirley will run track at Harvard