Winter break is looming, and the typical Kalamazoo College student will travel home for winter break. But the members of K’s swimming and diving teams and basketball teams are not among those students.
These student athletes will go home for Thanksgiving, and will return to campus by Dec. 1. During the break teams will keep active by practicing, but they will also find time to create memories when bonding with their teammates.
“When we aren’t practicing, we are all either hanging out, watching movies, shopping, playing cards or just hanging around the dorms,” said swimmer Kate Cebelak ’16. The swim teams are only on campus for one week of winter break before their midseason meet at Calvin College. Then they will take their annual training trip to the Florida Keys.
While in Florida they will practice twice a day and will also enjoy the sun. “The training trip is optional because you have to pay for it, but almost everyone goes. It’s the most fun,” said Cebelak.
Just like the swim teams, the men’s basketball team also leaves the state for part of break. Chase Baysdell ’17 described last year’s trip to Tampa Bay as “sweet.” This year Baysdell and his teammates will travel to Wisconsin where they will play two games and strengthen bonds over the experience.
While on campus, the basketball schedule during break is intense. Baysdell said their daily routine includes team breakfast, practice, team lunch, more practice, and then team dinner each day. When they do get time off, the basketball players look forward to celebrate annual traditions and to engage in the Kalamazoo community.
The basketball team volunteers at the local Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes food pantry. Here they bag pasta, bread, pretzels and other food that is given to homeless communities during the holidayseason.
Their favorite tradition under Coach Dougal is the ‘burning of the boot.’ Baysdell described this as a bonfire that the team has with Coach Dougal each year where every team member brings something to burn that they want to leave in the past. “Some guys bring old shoes they had injuries in, and some guys bring Hope College sweatshirts they have laying around,” said Baysdell.
“I love it,” Baysdell said, “We get to take our time at practice without schoolwork to do and it’s carefree and just so fun with the guys.”