The final feature in our series highlighting the seven spring student-athletes that have returned to Babson to attend graduate school while competing in their respective sport is written by Matthew Valente (Wyckoff, N.J.). A three-year starter at first base for the baseball program, Valente began classes in late August and is enrolled in the Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership program. He is scheduled to earn his degree in May.
For as long as I can remember, my life has revolved around baseball. As a senior, being told that our season was being canceled after only playing three games was devastating. It was hard to believe that I may have just played my last game. I have been playing baseball since I was a toddler and while I knew at some point it would have to end, this was not even close to how I had expected my last season to come to a close. I can still remember how horrible it felt sitting around the locker room with my teammates [and best friends], waiting for coach Noone to tell us the bad news that due to the pandemic our season was going to be shut down. Although we saw it coming after the suspension of the NBA season, colleges across the country sending students home and canceling their spring seasons, it was still very painful to hear. While it was extremely upsetting to be sent home during the spring semester of my senior year and not getting to finish out college or baseball on campus with my teammates and friends, I knew all I could do was spend time with my family while ensuring that I finished my last eight academic weeks of school online in a strong way. Coach Noone always tells us to control what we can control, and like many other things this was something that was out of our control and we just had to make the best of a bad situation.
Fortunately, I quickly realized that something I could control was my future. Starting the day the season was canceled, I thought about graduate school, and possibly playing one more year of baseball, as long as the NCAA granted us eligibility. I shared my thoughts and potential plans with my parents, coach Noone, and coach Ginsberg, and they helped me realize that it was definitely a real possibility to go back to Babson to get a Master's degree. I had already considered going back to school to get an advanced degree at some point in the near future, now the opportunity existed for me to do so while playing another year of college baseball. The more I thought about it the more I knew this was something I could not pass up. While I started the application process, I continued to look for a job but the further into the pandemic shutdown we got, the worse the job market was. This helped solidify that going back to Babson would be a great option for me. After waiting for about a month I was ecstatic to hear that I was accepted into Babson's Olin Graduate School of Business in the Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership program.
Choosing to attend Babson and play baseball has been the best decision of my life and now being able to get a second chance at finishing out my career as a Beaver while also pursuing my Master's degree is a true blessing and something I am extremely thankful for. Getting sent home in the midst of my senior spring and right at the beginning of what was poised to be hopefully another historic year for our program was not how I imagined my college experience coming to an end. I am grateful for this tremendous new opportunity to further my education at Babson and continue representing Babson on the baseball field. As I am preparing to head back to Babson, I will cherish every moment I get on the field with my teammates as I now know how quickly something so great can come to an end.