While many athletes had shortened winter breaks in order to train for their sports, many found their time in New Haven, or, in some cases, Florida, beneficial to their team’s performances and mentality.
Nearly every winter athletic team spent part of its winter break training in New Haven, most facing two- to three-hour routines twice a day. Men’s and women’s basketball and swimming also went to Florida before arriving on campus, while hockey, squash and gymnastics returned straight to campus, and fencing and track and field arrived only once residences opened. For many athletes, the demands of their sport cut short any notion of winter break, but they all agreed that it was an essential part of their training and a great opportunity for the team to bond.
“The training is much more intensive than during the school year,” said gymnastics captain Mia Yabut ’12. “But it’s definitely necessary for us to be ready for the season.” [and a great way to bond].”
The men’s ice hockey team arrived in New Haven the day after Christmas, which gave Kenny Agostino ’14 just three days to spend with his family, after training with and almost making the U.S. team for the world junior hockey championships for the beginning of the break.
“It certainly wasn’t easy to be away from home [after just three days], but it was great to be around my teammates again,” Agostino said.
Varsity swimmers agreed that their trip to Florida was thoroughly enjoyable, which helped give them a further boost to their training, which Cristina Teuscher, head coach of women’s swimming, called a “battery recharge” for the team.
“Swimming in the fresh air, with the sun warming your back — there’s nothing like it,” said Teuscher. “It makes the intense training that much easier to swallow, and [being] in a setting away from school gives the team a chance to bond in a more relaxed atmosphere.”
Swimmers Cynthia Tsay ’13 and West Cuthbert ’14 added that going to Florida rather than New Haven, where the training had been held in the two previous years, gave the swimmers “phenomenal” energy as they could swim outside in the sun and had many outlets of relaxation.
For swimmers, the intensive training definitely paid off as both teams trounced Cornell soundly in a meet on Jan. 7.
On the other hand, Sarah Halejian ’15, who trained in New Haven with women’s basketball, said that although the lack of classes allowed athletes to devote all of their time to their training, the monotony of the schedule made it challenging to stay motivated.
To help counteract this boredom, some teams sought entertainment in their surroundings.
Allie Messimer ’13 said the basketball teams arranged game nights and movie nights, while Cuthbert said swim teams took afternoon trips to the beach and toured the Swimming Hall of Fame.
Besides going to the mall and watching movies, Anthony Day ’15 said the hockey team also engaged in hotel pranks such as leaving water-filled bags on doorknobs.
Beyond recuperating, socializing and bonding over meals, squash player Neil Martin ’14 said he spent some of his free time reading. Tsay added that she also got a head start bluebooking and filling out summer applications.
Most teams had modest celebrations for New Year’s Eve — not even a 4:45 a.m. wake-up call stopped the men’s basketball team from going downtown in Gainesville, Matthew Townsend ’15 said.
With a match the day after, Allie Messimer ’13 said the women’s basketball team played Taboo and had cupcakes before going to bed soon after midnight.
Athena Liao ’12 said the swimming team cooked together and held a white elephant gift exchange. Both swimming teams tried to stay up to watch the ball drop, although Jared Lovett ’13 said that with practice at 6:30 the next morning, “not everyone made it,” and Teuscher said she went to bed at 9:30. Both swimming teams also went to the beach on New Year’s Day.
As for the fencing and track teams, many athletes continued to train individually over the break, receiving guidance from their coaches. “The coaches understand that none of us would skip a workout over break,” distance runner Thomas Harrison ’15 said. “We all want to be sharp for the upcoming meets.”