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The end of a journey

Billy Rotella

It’s what you have put all your lifes training into. All the extra hours in the gym, on the field, in the rink where no one else was watching, just wanting to be better than you were yesterday. Growing up, most athletes have a common goal in mind, to get an opportunity to play at the collegiate level. Not everyone can make it as a professional so this is the next best thing. 

     “Coming where I came from, recruitment was not heavy.” Those are the words of Dominican College senior Billy Rotella. Billy went to school at North Rockland High School in Rockland County, New York, a neighboring county to New York City. At the end of his senior year, Billy was named to the all-section team and was widely considered as the best infielder in the lower Hudson Valley area. However, even with all this individual success, collegiate programs did not come calling. 

      He elected to go to community college out of high school to try and gain some more notoriety that he didn’t receive out of high school and receive his associates degree. This was not the ideal situation that Billy had envisioned coming out of high school but he knew that if he wanted to keep playing the sport he loves, this was the only option. “I went and just mainly focused on baseball, that was easily the best decision I could have made.”

       After being named First Team All-Conference, Billy accepted an offer to play baseball at Dominican College in Orange County, not too far from where he lives. “I actually was never even in contact with any schools until a few days before they offered me, I was ready to not play baseball again,” Billy said. 

        After accepting the offer, Billy came in as a transfer junior and immediately became the starter at 3rd baseman for the Chargers. He played in 48 of the 54 games and recorded 5 home runs, 29 RBI’s and 37 runs while batting .293. It wasn’t the easiest transition coming from community college to a division two school but Billy made the best of his appearances. “They definitely were not throwing close to 95 in the community college league for sure, the game sped up for me.” 

      As the season waned, the level of comfort within Billy began to grow. He knew he was exactly where he belonged. The team finished 29-25 and Billy was determined to make his senior year even better. 

     “Of course throughout the year everyone had heard about the virus but not in America so no one thought anything of it.” The Domincan Chargers baseball team was able to start their season on schedule on Feb 21st against Franklin Pierce University. In fact, they were able to play their first 13 games with no problem until things would shift for the worst. 

      Going into their March 12th matchup against crosstown rival St. Thomas Aquinas College, a sense of doubt started to creep into the minds of Billy and his teammates. “Before the game, coach came to us and basically said to play our hearts out because there was a strong chance this would be the last game they played for the season.” Little do they know they would barely even get through that game. 

      In the bottom of the 7th inning, Billy’s coach revealed to them that he had just received a call that the season was going to be canceled immediately following the conclusion of the game. “At first my brain didn’t even properly digest what was being told to me, you never really think that something like this can happen, or at the very least to you.”

     Once Billy was able to finally shower and sit down, reality started to set in. “He came to me saying ‘mom, it’s done, it’s really done’ and we hugged and he cried in my arms,” Billy’s mom, Amanda Rotella said. Billy’s father, Lorenzo also noticed that for a brief period he saw the circumstances change his son. “He kind of went into a shell, there were a lot of days where he wouldn’t leave his room or even say a word to anyone in the house,” he said. 

     The aspirations Billy once had for his final senior campaign had disintegrated rapidly before his eyes. Well when there’s no one to blame, how can an athlete cope with such a big loss? As of today, Billy has a much more positive outlook on the situation. “I understand that there’s bigger problems in the world right now. People are sick and dying. I’ve been blessed to even be able to play the sport I love for such a long time. I would have liked to go out on my own terms but there are more important matters to tend to right now.” 

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