As if the KSC winter athletes weren’t stressed enough having to push through finals at the end of the semester, they also have to keep in mind they will be away from their athletic conditioning for nearly three weeks.
Their athletic season has just barely begun, and unlike the other students on campus who get to relax, and enjoy time off at home, these athletes get a span of only two or three weeks off before having to return full force into practices.
With this fact, the athletes get a nice break from schoolwork, but have to step it up a notch for their team, in order to continue their progress during the season.
This reality can be quite challenging and stressful for some athletes, as they must maintain focus and keep in shape on their own while home.
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They also do not get as much time with their families and friends for the holidays as they would like, which can sometimes be upsetting, especially for those athletes whom attend Keene State College far away from home.
Jack Fabian, head coach of the swimming and diving team, mentioned that it is usually the incoming freshmen that have a difficult time adjusting to the time-consuming commitments, and not really getting much of a break period from both school and sports.
Fabian also spoke a little about the difficulties of the athletes having to maintain skill work over the two-week period they do get off.
“Maintaining skill work depends a lot on motivation,” Fabian said. “Occasionally you get the slacker who just doesn’t want to do anything over break, but we often highly encourage our athletes to rejoin their high school teams for practice.”
“There’s nothing you can really do about the time in between, so I like to think of it more as a recovery period for the swimmers, and the goal is that hopefully, they will be smart, and workout as much as they can to keep in shape,” Fabian explained.
Peter Thomas, head coach of the indoor track and field team, agreed that it could be tough going home and having to maintain conditioning for three weeks on your own.
“When there is no coach watching them, it can be more difficult, especially for the throwers because they don’t have that kind of weight to throw around,” Thomas said. What has been in mutual agreement between the four winter athletic coaches, is that it comes down to whether the athletes really want to work to improve for when they return or not,” Thomas said.
Thomas continued, “If they go home and work, then they maintain, if not, then they are three weeks behind progress and are even at a higher risk for injury.”
Rob Colbert, head coach of the men’s basketball team, also had some interesting thoughts to add to the mix.
“The time off can be viewed as both good and bad,” said Colbert. “Good in the sense that the players get to focus on just basketball, versus school and papers and such, and bad in that they have a lot of downtime, which they are never quite sure what to do with being the only ones on campus,” he explained.
Colbert also said that for the players over break, there would most likely be a couple days of slacking, especially because there is a much different level of mentality when they are with a coach versus by themselves.
“They can never just stop playing,” Colbert said, “we’re a work in progress, and if they want to keep their butts in shape, they’re going to have to step it up a couple notches.”
Sara Laudano, senior captain of the women’s basketball team gave her own insight from the athlete’s perspective on how splitting the season actually affects her and her teammates.
“It is definitely important to maintain your level of skill work over break, especially since this year we’re going on a trip to New Orleans when we get back, and we play two games right away, so if you haven’t done anything over the break, you wouldn’t be in a rhythm,” Laudano explained.
Laudano said that the team gets to go home similar to everyone else, right after finals, but that practices resume on the Dec. 26, in preparation for their tournament in New Orleans.
Laudano explained that as short of a time as it may seem they have off to spend at home, she believes it is the perfect amount of time to get to spend with family and friends.
“It’s not like we aren’t spending time with our families, and usually, by the time the twenty-sixth comes around, you sort of want to get back here with your teammates and get back in the swing of things,” Laudano said.
“I tell my team they’re professional basketball players during that time, because they don’t have any classes,” Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Keith Boucher said.
His tactic is to make his team understand that instead of having to stress over both school and basketball, all they have to do is play basketball.
Boucher said how he tells his players, “This is your classroom, you can get extra time in the gym, its not like ‘okay, I didn’t get enough shots up in practice, I can’t do anything about that, I’ve got classes, and I’ve got homework’.
It’s really a great time for them to improve their skills.
The difficult part is the time from when they leave school until they come back,” he continued.
Boucher said when the women get home, they start getting lazy, and often don’t want to workout or go play pickup to keep conditioned.
“They get home and start saying, ‘Oh I’ll do it tomorrow,’ and then two days turns into three days, and four days and they still haven’t done anything yet,” Boucher said. “Now hopefully that doesn’t happen because we encourage them to get into their high school gym, go practice with their high school teams so they don’t lose the skill.”
Boucher also said he tells his team that if they truly have a passion and love for what they’re doing, then it won’t be a burden for them to practice and workout over break.
What seems to be the most difficult for the athletes, as Boucher commented, is the time when they return to school, and no one is on campus, especially for the freshman.
“You have to rely on your upperclassmen,” Boucher said. “Your veterans have to be the catalysts for them to get through that downtime, and there’s no doubt about that because they’ve been through it.”
No matter the ups and downs of being a part of a winter athletic team, it certainly seems as though it can be a very rewarding experience as well.
If these athletes didn’t have a passion for what they do, then they wouldn’t be playing.
“You do it because you have a love and have a passion for it, and any sport will only help define who you are,” Boucher said.
Lyndsay Krisel can be conatacted at email@example.com