Student-athletes train with their teams over break during winter training

Student-athletes train with their teams over break during winter training

Photo Credits: QUINN SPOONER / AGGIE

Many of the dedicated student athletes were on campus training for their upcoming seasons

UC Davis’ status as a Division I may be prestigious, but it doesn’t come easy — while a majority of students spent their Winter Breaks at home visiting their families and celebrating the holidays, many student athletes at UC Davis remained in town, dedicating their time to winter training.

The 628 Division I athletes at UC Davis all approach winter training differently depending on their sport and its season. Those who are “off season” spent their time staying in shape on their own schedule, whereas most athletes who are “in season,” or who will be soon, were on campus training, practicing and competing. Both men’s and women’s basketball teams are in the midst of their season and had several games throughout the break. During break, they were able to focus on athletic performance without added academic pressure. The gymnastics team was also training in preparation for upcoming competitions.  

Kevin Blue, the UC Davis athletic director, spoke about the benefits of winter training for athletes, describing the importance of staying in shape during the season.

“The pursuit of one’s sport is an ongoing activity that has its ebbs and flows as far as the intensity is concerned, but the winter holiday period is not one that any athlete wants to fully disengage,” Blue said. “It’s a good thing for our student athletes to take rest between quarters when their sport is not in season, but the student athletes who are in season or preparing for their seasons are not eager to fully disengage from their sport.”

The women’s swim and dive team was also on campus for much of the Winter Break, with their winter training split into two parts. The first segment took place Dec. 14 to 19, after which athletes were able to take a break and go home for about a week. Then they returned on Dec. 27 and finished their winter training with a meet on Jan. 4. 

Anna Lee, a first-year biological sciences major who specializes in butterfly and freestyle, talked about a typical day of winter training for the swim team, saying that, in many ways, it’s more intense than practice during the quarter. 

“Winter training differs from our typical training during the school year since the NCAA rule that only permits 20 hours of training does not apply, so we have a lot more hours of practice during winter training,” Lee said. “It’s also different in the sense that we have two swim practices every day, including Sundays, along with other activities compared to the school year — where we only have two swim practices twice a week and a day off on Sundays. Our [winter] training includes swimming for two plus hours twice a day and we have an hour of weights and an hour of yoga every other day. On average, it’s around five-plus hours of training everyday.”

Blue, talking about differences in training regimens, said “it’s different from team to team.”

“For the teams that are in competition, there are specific schedule requirements that are exactly the same as the schedule requirements that are occuring during the academic year in terms of practice hours and required time off,” he said.

Committing so many hours in the pool and to the team over break has not only allowed the swim and dive team to stay focused and fit but also bond as a group — especially given that a large portion of the campus was empty. Sophia Sebastian, a first-year sociology major who focuses on backstroke and breaststroke, found the experience to be beneficial to both her and the team. 

“I believe winter training has helped me become a better athlete in regards to the way I train and challenge myself in the pool and weight room,” Sebastian said. “Winter training allowed for many different team bonding opportunities both during and outside of practices. With almost everyone else on campus gone, we luckily all had one another to spend time and hang out with. During the tough practices, we motivated and cheered for one another. 

“All of us knew how hard the training was, but we were all in it together. Winter training is not anyone’s ideal way to spend Winter Break, but the mental toughness, physical strength and [bonding] with my teammates that resulted from it made the experience all worth it.” 

Written by: Lei Otsuka — features@theaggie.org

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