Though the semester is just beginning, the winter indoor track and field team at Keene State College is in full swing. While coaches couldn’t keep an eye on athletes when they were home for winter break, KSC head track coach, Peter Thomas helped athletes prepare a routine to help them stay in shape over the break. Thomas prints out a packet for each of his athletes to guide them when they are away from school.
However, Thomas said the sooner they return to KSC the better. Thomas noted that there is usually a correlation between being at school and being successful.
“The kids really want to excel here, and generally when they’re here they do better,” Thomas said.
Though not all track and field athletes came back to Keene at the same time, most were here to enjoy the campus, specifically the gym, while the rest of the campus was home for winter break. Senior Thomas Paquette said he enjoyed being up here with just the athletes.
“I love it. It’s a lot quieter, it feels like I’ve got Keene to myself,” Paquette said.
However, not all the athletes shared Paquette’s enthusiasm about returning early. Senior Janel Haggerty said although the empty gym was nice, she was in no hurry to return to Keene.
“I didn’t want to cut my break short. I like being home and not having to worry about school,” Haggerty said. Being away from Keene gives athletes a chance to relax and recover, Haggerty added.
But some athletes take rest and relaxation a little too far, Thomas said. He said, “Some are farther ahead of the curve, others are playing catch-up. De-training happens quickly.”
Head Throwing Coach, John Napolitano said maintaining fitness is important over the break. “I give them some workouts in order to stay in shape and not go home and put on ten pounds of turkey from the holidays,” Napolitano said.
The structure and discipline is certainly helping some athletes.
Thomas Paquette said he has learned to take the winter break more seriously since his freshman year. “It was just hard as a freshman to comprehend that running over break is beneficial. As a freshman I wasn’t as disciplined. Now, as a senior I know the importance of training, especially if you want to get ahead of the game and become stronger,” Paquette said.
Paquette noted that Coach Thomas stresses the importance of not having to race back into shape once the break ends, and to come back stronger than when you left KSC. “Winter break makes or breaks your indoor season basically,” Paquette added.
Haggerty said she learned from experience the importance of disciplined training while at home. She said she didn’t work as hard over her freshman winter break as she has more recently. “I kind of thought, ‘oh I can go on break and just run whenever I wanted to and I would come back and be fine,’ and that wasn’t the case at all,” Haggerty said.
Coach Napolitano said the older, more experienced athletes are usually the ones who display the necessary dedication over the break and freshmen sometimes don’t get the message.
“The freshmen haven’t quite figured that out yet because they don’t know what’s ahead of them. It’s a long season. Some of them figure it out before but some of them have to learn the hard way,” Napolitano said.
Thomas said that while he tries to keep in touch with his athletes over break, he still can’t be sure of what kind of work they’re putting in. He asked his runners to update him weekly via email. Thomas also said he had phone conversations with many of his athletes while they were away. While the dedicated athletes will stay on top of their training, winter break can really hurt others, Thomas said.
“The ones that need more guidance, it affects them a lot, because they’re left to their own devices at home and it’s easier sometimes to say it’s too cold or too snowy to go out and run. So they may train three days a week instead of six days a week,” Thomas said.
Both coaches said they understand some athletes have to work over the break just to afford coming back. Napolitano said that while it’s hard, it can be done, and he knows from experience.
“I myself was an athlete at [KSC], I had to pay my own way through college, and I understand that it’s hard, but it can be done and I have kids on my team who do it and are doing very well,” Napolitano said.
Napolitano said his team‘s biggest room for improvement is how they compete. “We’re getting stronger; we’re getting better at throwing. But we have to get better at competing,” Napolitano said.
With conference championships and nationals just around the corner, competition will be at a premium.
Stephen Trinkwald can be contacted at