Grind never stops for athletes during school breaks



Swimming at the home pool at Eisenhower High, sophomore Om Bidja competes in a race.

Dominic Lount and Ethan Smale

During any school break, whether it is Christmas, mid-winter, or spring break, classes may stop, but not all school activities are put on hold. When it comes to being a student athlete, staying in tip-top shape is a must in order to stay consistent and succeed in a sport, so coaches may hold practices over breaks to help keep that consistency.

“I feel that it’s good to stay in shape and stay fresh over break,” sophomore Gavin Zbytowski said. “When we do get back to school, we are ready for our competition.”

Practices may be a different length of time over a break, and some student-athletes may not be present due to family reasons or vacation, but the ones that stay and train will not miss a beat once the season resumes.

“The schedule has been that way forever,” varsity basketball coach Dave Hinkle said. “It has to do with the scheduling of the league and whatever the athletic director schedules is when we practice.”

Haley Grooms
The varsity basketball team gathers around coach David Hinkle.

This training does not have to strictly apply for sports in a season, as many sports that are not currently having games may have little optional practices or training sessions, where a few student-athletes at a time come in and perfect their craft.

“I train in the off season starting this past summer with a swim club in Saint Clair Shores,” junior Brittany Shock said. “I’d train at 5am in an Olympic size pool and then go back at 6pm again, and I’ve grown so much from the training.”

For some school sports that do not have training over breaks, student-athletes may take it upon themselves to train and get ready for their upcoming, current, or already finished season.

“I go to the gym almost every day,” junior Francesco Grillo said. “It helps me keep in shape.”

Whether scheduled on purpose or pushed back because of inclement weather, some sports have games or meets over break. Therefore practice becomes even more crucial. For example, over mid-winter break the varsity boys swim team has a scheduled meet on Feb 20, so training is still a must.

“It’s good to have practice over break because the routine of a swimmer should be swimming every day for at least an hour,” sophomore Om Bidja said. “It takes a lot of effort in being a swimmer, and having practice over beak can help swimmers improve their speed, starts and flip turns.”

Practices and games over break are necessary, because without anything scheduled they could possibly lengthen the season. One challenge though for athletic director Karen Holmes is getting a good amount of participation from athletes over break, especially from freshman and rookies new to high school sports.

“The biggest challenge with scheduling games over break is students adjusting to high school sports,” Holmes said. “There will be freshman that comes in and their parents schedule a vacation over mid-winter break, but their kid just made the basketball team, so then that’s a problem.”

School, homework and lessons may stop, but for student athletes, breaks are no time to rest, as continuing to train and prepare for the rest or beginning of a sports season will pay off in the end, so when the time comes, Utica student athletes will be ready to compete.