For most students at Saint Joseph’s University, winter break is a much-needed month to destress and spend ample time at home before the new semester begins. Every year we look forward to these few weeks, especially after a draining week of final exams.
This is not the case for all students, though, as a number of our Division I athletes must alter their winter breaks to meet the demands of their training. For our teams such as basketball, Hawk Hill is still home base throughout the holidays while they are in the heart of their season. Our spring sports can enjoy their time at home but have to return a few weeks early in the month of January, including the track team, which will be arriving back to campus one week before their first race.
To some, this may seem unappealing, but various members of the team expressed their enjoyment in having a shortened break. Senior Ira Daly, looks forward to the week of solely training as he “feels like a professional athlete” and can enjoy spending time with the team before the new season begins. With the first meet of the season for most taking place on January 15, junior Colin Kane thinks it is smart to get the team back together for official practices.
One major drawback of returning to campus early for athletes is the lack of housing due to most on-campus facilities being closed. Freshman Katie Sparks currently lives in McShain, a dorm that remains open throughout the break, and notes the lack of accommodations for teams with a large number of underclassmen. Though this does not apply to her, she has a fair number of teammates who have to stay with upperclassmen over break. Sparks highlights the difficulty for upperclassmen as well, since a “house that already has seven girls in it can’t really host many other people.” While there is a difficulty posed, Daly says it is still exciting having underclassmen stay off campus because the camaraderie makes everyone feel closer as a team.
Returning to campus one week early gives athletes the opportunity to get back into a groove after three weeks of necessary down time. When asked if this break interrupts training routine, Sparks believes that a week of training once classes begin again will more likely be a bigger adjustment. While the track team is at their respective homes for the majority of break, they continue training, using workouts their coaches provide to keep their stamina, endurance, and overall performance at a competitive level. “As a runner you can run anywhere,” says Kane, “so when you come back it feels like you never missed a step.” Shortening winter break may not make sense for everyone, but for our athletes it is all attributed to the fact that they love what they do. The hard work and continuous training will surely pay off for the track team once their next season begins this upcoming January.