Winter athletes’ holiday break yields little break


Most students can say they look forward to winter break after long hours of studying, writing twenty page papers and being sleep deprived from endless hours of crammed end-of-the-year projects.

Junior forward Cory Veldhuizen steps to the free throw line to shoot a pair during the 48th annual Mayor’s Cup on Jan. 19. Veldhuizen said one of the few nice things about staying during break is the peacefulness. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

But for some students, winter break only means another month of hard work, time consuming practices and competition.

“The pros are that the dorms are pretty peaceful,” junior basketball player Cory Veldhuizen said. “But the real downfall is you don’t really get to spend the break with your family. ”

Break on campus

The life of a student-athlete has never been an easy one. From year round training to time-consuming schedules, student-athletes can never catch a break from their hectic lives.

Staying in an empty dorm and spending their holiday competing can leave winter athletes feeling lonely and bored.

“It can get a little dull around the place,” Veldhuizen said. “You get tired of eating at the same restaurants over and over and there isn’t really anyone around so it is pretty quiet.

“It’s just you and your team and whatever you find to do.”

“To be honest it sucks,” junior women’s basketball player Sydnee Penn said. “Most of us want to go home and spend our break there.”

The winter athletic teams that stay on campus consist of both the men and women’s swimming and basketball teams.

Each team stays on campus in their dorms after a short break, spending Christmas with their families.  But after the holiday cheer is over, it is back to action and back to practice.

“We get nine days off,” freshman swimmer Stephanie Brookens said. “Then it is back here for the rest of break.”

“For basketball we get seven days off, which starts December 17,” Veldhuizen said. “We get a whole week to go home and stay with our families for Christmas and by the time that is over we come back here and stay the rest of the break.

“For me, personally, I can go home whenever I want because I live locally but for some of the other guys that live far away, they don’t really have that option.”

[pullquote]”To be honest it sucks,” junior women’s basketball player Sydnee Penn said. “Most of us want to go home and spend our break there.”[/pullquote]

There is no place like home

So what do athletes do when they live states away?

Many athletes that cannot make it home for the holidays buddy up with a teammate and spend Christmas with their families.

Although it is a home-cooked meal and a more welcoming setting than Malone’s dorms, there is just something about being home for the holidays that makes Christmas more special.

“Many athletes would rather be with their own families during the holidays,” Penn said. “Sometimes you just want that home-cooked meal from your own home.”

According to Penn, some athletes, such as her teammate Deborah Simmers, are fortunate enough to have family members closer in distance to spend their short break with.

“Debbie is from Alaska,” Penn said. “She is not going home for break but she has family in Columbus so luckily she will be staying with them during our six day break.”

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving team celebrates as a squad during the home meet on Oct. 26. The swimming and diving team, along with the basketball teams, have to return to campus earlier than most as they get only nine days off. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Making the best of it

Despite missing out on spending time with old friends and family members, Pioneer winter athletes still find a way to make their winter break enjoyable.

“It is pretty peaceful which is nice,” Veldhuizen said. “Compared to our regular schedule of practice and class schedules it is pretty relaxing and slow.  You practice once a day, lift then have the entire day to yourself.”

“From what I have heard, the team will get together and have movie nights,” Brookens said. “Maybe a girl’s night or something to keep us busy and entertained.”

Brookens also commented on how spending time on campus gives her the opportunity to focus on swimming and grow with her teammates.

“I wish I could go home,” Brookens said. “But then again, I think that this gives me time to focus on swimming more and do nothing but eat, sleep and swim.”

Whether it is being bored in the dorm rooms or excelling at their sports, Pioneer winter athletes will be looking forward to a break from class time, school work and exams.

Tina Oprean is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.

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