No Rest for the Weary — Athletes on Campus over Winter Break

Susanna Williams, Staff Reporter

The winter athletic season is characterized by many things: cold weather, indoor sports, as well as off-season for fall athletes and pre-season for spring athletes. But maybe one of the most notable for the winter athletes themselves is the fact that winter break is cut short due to the expectation of returning to campus early to prepare for the games, meets and matches to come. The Wire spoke with several athletes from the swim teams and basketball teams to talk about their winter breaks.

Alex Izbiky, junior swimmer and an Economics and Psychology major, shared the following about what the winter break schedule is like for our men’s swimmers:

“For the swim team, we get about two and a half weeks at home before we reconvene with the team in Southern California for our training trip. While we are home our schedules are entirely our own, but is expected that we will continue to work out and stay in shape. Once we get back together as a team we are training every day, often twice a day until school starts again.”

Mady Burdett is a junior basketball player majoring in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. When asked about their winter break schedule, Burdett said:

“We traveled to Santa Cruz for basketball right before Christmas and were able to be home for five days but had to be back on New Year’s Eve for practice. After that we practiced everyday because we traveled every weekend during break … Practices went well although at times it was hard to find energy after sitting around all day due to no classes. But, we won every single game over break, including an upset win over nationally ranked George Fox. So I would say this winter break was huge for our program.”

Bryce Mulder, a sophomore basketball player and Economics major, expressed a somewhat similar schedule for the men’s basketball team:

It started with a trip to Phoenix for two games before flying home to spend five days with family for Christmas. After that we took a trip to Southern California to play another two games. Once we got back to campus it was a lot of practice and more travel for conference road games against Lewis and Clark, Whitworth, Linfield and George Fox. We went undefeated in those eight games with big wins against nationally prominent schools Wooster, Illinois Wesleyan and Whitworth.”

In regards to how athletes felt about the winter break schedule, there were differing opinions. Kaelie Rose is a senior swimmer majoring in Sociology with a minor in History. She talked about the tensions that arise from practicing over break.

“While I don’t think we got that much of a break and for me personally… [it] was not restful at all (which was hard to accept, especially because this year’s break seemed so much shorter for some reason), this part of our season during break is so important and so crucial. We are mid-season by Christmas break and we cannot take time off especially before training trip or we will not have the potential or benefit that we could be getting,” Rose said. “Also, if we do no training, it makes the path to injury that much easier and faster which is the last thing anyone wants to occur mid-season. It’s always hard to be swimming so much and being so exhausted, but the prospects of conference results and performance outweigh the hardships and pain.”   

Burdett also expressed some of the ups and downs that come with losing time spent at home.

“At times it is frustrating to not really have a winter break to be able to go home for awhile and see family, but with committing to play a college sport you have to be aware of what you’re committing to. If you’re willing to make these types of sacrifices, then practicing over winter break should feel just fine because playing your sport is something you should enjoy and commit to do. You should be okay making sacrifices for doing something you love. That being said, I would say it is worth it and necessary to practice during break.”

Izbiky also expressed the importance of training over the holiday break.

“This is incredibly important to our season, and while it cuts into our break, I don’t think that anyone on our team resents that. We love the opportunity to train outside together while in California, and for many it is the highlight of their year.”

Mulder felt like the winter break schedule was more of a blessing than a curse.

“Obviously a longer break and seeing our families more would be nice but I think that our coaches do a great job, for our guys from Arizona and California, of putting us in positions to play in front of our families as well as playing great competition that gives us the best chance of being successful. We also are such a close team that spending more time together seems more like a gift than a hassle.”

With the season still ahead of them, Rose is looking forward to “conference. I am excited to see how everyone performs rested and ready to go, we always do significantly better after taper starts and our bodies have a chance to recover from the hard work we have been enduring. I’m really excited for my last conference and to see how everyone does in their events and also just to end this season being able to say that we gave it all we had and we did everything possible to get to where we are.”

Burdett is excited about what is still to come this basketball season.

“I’m excited for our second round of conference games because we are currently tied for first place. I’m really excited to see how our team will handle the pressure and excitement from these next games. I know we can do it — it’s just a matter of believing in ourselves and playing our game, no one else’s.”

Lastly, Mulder is looking forward to “see how far we can go as a team and mostly see this senior class, who has done so much for this program, go out on a high note and enjoy their final season.”

All in all, while coming back from winter break early can be seen as a burden many of the winter athletes face, it can also be seen as a crucial opportunity for unique growth and focus.