As much of campus is preparing for a long winter break, many athletes are finding themselves without much of one at all. For those who compete in winter-season sports, competitions scheduled over break affect their time away from school. Practices are scheduled during break as well, leading to some athletes getting as little as six days to go home and visit family or take time off-campus to recharge.
The Goucher Swim team started their season in October, with four meets before Thanksgiving break. They then went on a miniature hiatus from competing, with daily practices in the meantime. Their next competition isn’t until January 19, but the team is required to return to campus by January 04, in order to attend mandatory lifting and practice sessions before the meet.
The track team is in a similar position; they had their first meet December 03, and won’t be competing again until January 13. Despite that, most of the team is required to return by January 03, nearly two weeks before their next competition.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams are in an even more difficult position. Not only do they have games after the holidays, they also have to stay after finals end. While the rest of campus will be emptying as people go home to visit family, they will have to stay through the weekend, for a women’s game on the 17th and a men’s game on the 19th.
It will then be a quick turnaround before they have to be back again for New Years games, starting on December 29. A representative from the women’s basketball team shared that they have to stay until December 20, and return to campus just six days later, on December 26, for mandatory practice.
Certainly, coming back early has its advantages for the team. Being able to practice without the stress of class will allow athletes to focus on honing their craft single mindedly. Being on campus together with no distractions will give the teams time to bond and meld, as they all work on improving their skill.
It also can’t be ignored that every member of these teams made a commitment to being a collegiate athlete, and must be willing to make the sacrifices that come with that. But one can’t help but wonder what it must do for morale for those few athletes who have to spend nearly a month on campus alone. An extended break could help with mid-season burnout, especially for those who have already been competing for some time.
Athletes may become demoralized by being on the cold, empty campus through January, as opposed to recharging with their family. At the end of the day, the issue is complicated, and the end result is unavoidable – even aside from the warranted practices, there are still games and meets that the athletes need to be back for. This is, quite literally, the middle of their season.
While you’re at home this J-term, root for wins by the Gophers, and hope that it’s all worth it.