For Student-Athletes, Spring Break is anything but

March 12, 2013
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

March 12, 2013

Monarch Blog

“She was just getting back from Panama City, she was all tanned up and my kinda pretty.”

– Rodney Atkins, Farmer’s Daughter

Ah, spring break, a time for students across the country to take a break from the rigors of everyday college life. You know, mid-term exams, all-nighter study sessions, and monster loads of homework.

Spring break is the week many students dream about as they venture to far-off places, tan their bodies and let loose. I mean, there are websites devoted to which destination is the raunchiest.

Then there are the student-athletes. For the spring sports programs, there is no such thing as a real spring break vacation.

       Here’s what those programs are doing this week.

  • The baseball team is playing five games.
  • The men’s golf team is competing in two tournaments.
  • The women’s golf team is also competing in two tournaments.
  • The men’s tennis team is playing four matches.
  • The women’s tennis team is playing two matches.
  • The women’s rowing team is training every morning this week and finishing that off with a meet.
  • The sailing team will compete in five different meets.
  • And…the women’s lacrosse team will play twice.

OK, so the locations aren’t all that bad. In fact, some are quite nice. The men’s golf team is playing at Pinehurst, N.C., and then going to Orlando.

And the women’s golf team is going to … Las Vegas? I’d say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I’m confident their results in the Bucknell Invitational will make it onto the internet. (And I’m baffled as to how it is the Bucknell Invite is happening in Sin City; I was positive Bucknell was located in Lewisburg, Pa., on the banks of the Susquehanna River).

The rowing team might be training every day, but they are doing it in Austin, Texas, before taking on the University of Texas at the end of the week.

The sailing team will be competing this weekend in beautiful, quaint, pristine Annapolis, Md. (I suggest a splurging team meal at the Middleton Tavern, est. 1750 … and order the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes).

And the women’s tennis team? I’m almost embarrassed to say where those Monarchs are: Las Palmas, Puerto Rico. Hope you packed your sunscreen ladies, Wednesday’s high is expected to be 84 with an extreme UV tanning index of 11 (I didn’t know it went past 10).

So as Madonna sang in Evita, “Don’t cry for me Argentina.” It seems spring break for a student athlete might not be as bad as first indicated.

“My guys try so hard to make the spring break lineup,” said Dr. Murray Rudisill, men’s golf coach. “First, they know we’re going to Pinehurst and Orlando. Second, they know that they are qualifying for both trips. It’s made them play really loose in the first trip because they know they are already in for the second tournament without qualifying.”

Baseball coach Chris Finwood said he believes his players “feed off the emotion of spring break.”

“They might not actually be going somewhere for spring break like their classmates, but they realize that they aren’t turning in papers or studying for exams and tests,” Finwood said. “And they just act and play looser and more relaxed because of it. They know they are dealing with 10 days of no class. The same thing actually happens at the end of the semester too when we’re still playing ball after graduation.”

The Monarchs’ baseball team happened to be locked into a conference three-setter for this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but it could have been worse: They will be in Atlanta to play Georgia State and the Panthers happen to be the furthest south team in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Next year, ODU’s baseball team will start its spring break at national powerhouse Rice in Houston, Texas. Finwood is already considering sticking around Texas for a couple of “spring break” games before heading home to play UAB.

You know, I started writing this blog feeling sorry for the student-athletes who lose out on their spring breaks. Suddenly, I’m not feeling so bad for them, particularly if those tennis players come home sun-burned.