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Opinion

Dedicated student athletes work hard over break

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December 5, 2013

Players of the men’s hockey team celebrate a goal.
Players of the men’s hockey team celebrate a goal. The team is off to a strong start with a 4-1-1 record so far this season led by Willie Hess who has scored six goals. (Kathy M Helgeson/University Communication)

While the majority of us on campus are looking forward to a nice month long break where we can sit back, drink a nice mug of hot chocolate, and re charge from the crazy first semester, the winter athletes will still be hard at work.

Men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and swimming and diving are all right in the middle of the busiest part of their seasons over J Term and indoor track has their first meet toward the end.

The last day of scheduled finals is Thursday, Dec. 19. Just nine days later the women’s basketball team will have to be back to play in two games on Saturday, Dec. 28 and Sunday, Dec. 29. The men’s basketball team will have to stick around until Dec. 20 to play a game and will have to be back to play Dec. 30 and again on New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31 at the UW-Eau Claire Holiday Classic.

Then starting January 4 all the teams will be competing on a regular basis. Basically these athletes get one fourth of the break that most students get over J Term. While some might see this as an annoyance, exhausting or even crazy, Zach Schrotenboer of the men’s hockey team said the only disadvantage he sees is that there are not as many fans at home games to support. Other than that he has taken a lot of positives out of it.

“It is definitely hard not to have a longer break, but at the same time you get used to it pretty quick,” said Schrotenboer. “It’s nice to have the down time as well to just relax with the team, and some of us are taking J Term classes as well to keep busy.”

Ollie White, senior on the men’s basketball team said that basketball makes it worth not having the break everyone else does. “I wouldn’t say it is a disadvantage, it kind of is disappointing not being able to have a full break like other students, but it comes with the territory. Also, Coach (Jeff Berkhoff) does a great job with finding a time for a little break during J Term.”

I think that both Schrotenboer and White’s responses are similar to how all the Div. III winter athletes here at UWRF would respond. One thing that is easy to forget is that Div. III athletes play the sport strictly for the love of the game. That is something that I have fallen in love while covering Falcon sports the past couple of years. They receive no scholarships to come play and have no extra benefits yet they put in so much time, dedication and hard work year round in order to compete at the collegiate level.

This clearly comes out when looking at the rigorous J Term schedule these teams have. Men’s basketball has nine games, women’s basketball and men’s hockey each have eight, women’s hockey team plays seven games, and the women’s swimming and diving will compete in three meets while the men compete in two.

The commitment that these student athletes put in is encouraging and motivating to see and something not to be overlooked when watching Falcon athletics.

Ryan Tibbitts is a freshman majoring in journalism. He loves all sports but obsesses over his Packers.