Over and above the benefits sports provides on the field—-teamwork, persistence, discipline, among others—are other positives that make the experience a rewarding one. These end up looming larger than the games, and come into play when dealing with real life events. Sports teams provide a camaraderie and support system for student-athletes, and which unfortunately, Ferrum College has had to lean on heavily within the last month or so.
Tragically, the Panthers’ men’s soccer team has had to deal with the loss of goalkeeper Cole Lipinski, who died on September 19th. There aren’t many ways to prepare for something like this, especially the loss of a teammate who was so young and had so many years ahead of him. Lipinski was also a lacrosse player for Ferrum, and had intended to continue playing this spring.
The weekend after Lipinski’s death, the program honored his memory in their game against Virginia Wesleyan with a touching tribute. He wore number 99 for Ferrum, and the Panthers’ goal was left unguarded for 99 seconds at the beginning of the match.
Lipinski had dreams of becoming a physical therapist. He was no stranger to knee injuries throughout the course of his athletic career, and wanted to help others recover and get back on the field. He interned at a PT clinic this summer, and was more excited than ever to embark on that path in college and beyond.
A vigil was held on September 24th for Lipinski on the school’s campus.
Somehow, the Ferrum college soccer program will continue to forge on after such a traumatic event. It won’t be easy, and head coach Matt Cureton will have his work cut out for him in an unexpectedly trying season. At the end of the day though, it’s a good thing that the Panthers’ players and coaching staff have one another to speak to and reminisce with.