Financial downturn affects team travel

As a result of cuts to travel expenditures in the Athletics Department, the women’s tennis team will not be able to play at places like Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Michigan during their season, says captain Sarah Lederhandler ’10, pictured here in January.
As a result of cuts to travel expenditures in the Athletics Department, the women’s tennis team will not be able to play at places like Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Michigan during their season, says captain Sarah Lederhandler ’10, pictured here in January. Photo by Marcus Schwarz.

When the members of the cross country team compete against Harvard on Friday, they won’t have the luxury of waking up in Cambridge, Mass., to prepare for their meet. Whereas in years past the team has gone to meets a day early, this year runners are traveling to many meets on the day of the event.

“It changes the way we do things,” said Matthew Bogdan ’11, a member of the cross country team. “It’s a little bit of an inconvenience. Being on campus is a little louder than being in a hotel. It’s just something we have to deal with.”

Against Harvard, at a venue where only three team members have raced, the lack of an extra day could be particularly noticeable.

“For such a big meet you would have liked to have some experience,” Bogdan said. “We haven’t run this course in years past. It would have been nice to go down the day before for the freshmen and sophomores who haven’t been there.”

Cross country team members aren’t the only ones finding themselves on the road less this season. As part of a University-wide 7.5 percent reduction in budgets, the Athletics Department has had to find ways to reduce its spending. This means cutting down on equipment costs, recruiting trip expenses and varsity team travel, according to Ryan Bamford, a senior associate director of athletics.

Because the department relies on the University’s endowment, which has taken a 24.6 percent hit this year, budget cuts have forced Yale teams to cut travel costs by spending less time on the road and playing more games closer to campus.

This year, most Yale teams will have to stay within a region defined by Washington to the south and Pittsburgh to the west, Bamford said. Teams traveling out of this region will be able to do so only for championships and guaranteed games — games in which another school pays Yale to play, such as in the men’s basketball team’s upcoming trip to Colorado.

During spring break, trips to California have been cut in exchange for trips on the East Coast, Bamford said.

In the spring, sports team will be allowed to go as far south as Virginia, but only the tennis, golf, softball and baseball teams will be allowed to travel to Florida. Trips that were previously about two weeks long will be cut down to eight days.

“They need that climate to get whatever amount of games in, whatever it may be,” Bamford said, referring to the teams that are allowed to travel to Florida.

Bamford also said Yale has always had a longer spring break than its Ivy League counterparts.

“We’re the only ones going on two-week spring breaks for 10 years, 20 years,” he said. “We were at an advantage in that situation. Now we’re back in the level playing field with our other Ivies. If we had said instead of a week you can only go for four days, yeah, then I think maybe that puts us behind a little bit.”

Athletes, like runner Bogdan who will go to Virginia with the track team, said their schedule will feel the absence of such trips to California.

“In terms of track, we’re not going to be able to take our spring break trip to California,” he said. “The weather, the training is a lot better.”

Although he admitted he had not trained in Virginia before, he felt it was a fair assessment to say the training would have been better on the West Coast.

The softball team helps finance its yearly two-week trip to Florida with a 50-inning fundraiser game. This year the fundraiser will take place on Oct. 30 to raise money for the shortened trip.

“This year we have more pressure to raise as much money as we can from our fundraiser,” captain Ashley Sloan ’10 said. Despite the team’s shorter trip, Sloan remains optimistic about spring break.

“Hopefully, we’ll see some better competition in this smaller tournament,” she said. “More bang for our buck.”

The women’s tennis team, which will get to travel to Florida during spring break, will not be able to play at places like Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Michigan during their season, captain Sarah Lederhandler ’10 said.

“For us to play highly ranked teams, we need to get out of the region,” she said. “We’re not allowed to do that anymore, so that’s going to cut down on our competition on nationally ranked teams.”

Teammate Jessica Rhee ’10 said not being able to go to California or Texas, where the team usually goes during spring break, would also limit the level of competition the team faced.

“Now we can’t really play other teams that are higher ranked,” she said. “That was really good exposure because those teams play outdoors year round.”

Men’s tennis captain Connor Dawson ’10 had a different outlook on the trips.

“I mean overall it shouldn’t make much of a difference at all,” he said, referring to where the team is allowed to travel this year. “It’s on us to be prepared. It doesn’t have anything to do with where we go. Our coaches do a real good job of making the budget cuts where it still gives us the opportunity to win the Ivy.”

The volleyball team, which last year took two trips to California, one during preseason and one over Thanksgiving break, will not travel farther than Washington this year.

Kelly Ozurovich ’10, libero on the volleyball team, said the California trip over Thanksgiving allowed the team to play against very strong competition and helped them win in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

Teammate Lydia Mailander ’10 said despite the lack of travel, the team’s preseason competition has remained strong.

“Our coaches have done a good job at getting us some good competition in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey because we can’t do the California trip,” she said.

Indeed, most athletes seemed determined not to let shorter trips or different locations affect their success.

“I think when it comes to race time we’ll still be ready to go,” Bogdan said. “It’s just going to take a little bit of extra effort.”

Comments

  • wanderingaengus

    kudos to dawson and mailander for seeign the positive of the situation and recognizing this as an opportunity for the team to step-up. part of being a team is facing adverse situations and making the best of it. I am confident that volleyball and men’s tennis will be successful this season with that kind of attitude.

  • The Count

    Y’mean they’ll be flying out of Tweed even LESS than they do now?