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Athlete Vacations Shorter Than Most

Games, pratices cut into holiday break for some winter athletes

By Samuel C. Scott, Crimson Staff Writer

While most students trickle off campus, heading home for nearly two weeks of winter holidays, some winter-sport athletes have their vacations interrupted by obligations to Harvard.

During recess, the Crimson men’s hockey as well as men’s and women’s basketball teams will face off in intercollegiate competition.

But even those who aren’t obliged to compete may be called back for practice—the wrestling and men’s and women’s swimming teams will continue to train during the break.

The teams can ill afford to take two weeks off in the middle of their seasons.

“You have to do it if you want to be competitive, at least for wrestling,” said wrestler Jonathan A. Mankovich ’05.

The full wrestling team returns Dec. 31 and immediately resumes training, likely with twice-a-day practices.

“We hit it hard right away,” Mankovich said.

As snow falls on Cambridge, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will travel to warmer climates.

The women’s swimming team will continue training over winter break in St. Croix from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 and the men’s team will travel to Dorado, Puerto Rico from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3.

Team members fund their own trips through earnings from teaching private lessons and parental donations, not through money from Harvard Athletics or alumni.

“It’s very good for bonding purposes and community, and it’s fantastic for training,” said Women’s Swimming Head Coach Stephanie Wriede-Morawski. “For everyone to go home for two weeks and lose all the unity, camaraderie and training we’ve built up is not a very good thing for our season.”

Their trips are walks on the beach—between two workout sessions per day.

“If you’re going to make them train that hard, it’s nice to...let them go lie on the beach for a couple hours,” Wriede-Morawski said.

The St. Croix facility does not offer diving boards, so Harvard’s women divers will accompany their male counterparts to Pasadena, Calif.

“Nobody wants to be stuck up here in the snow any more than they have to,” men’s swimming co-captain Andrew B. Krna ’05 said. “It’s difficult, but I’d much rather spend the time with my team somewhere warm.”

The time in the Caribbean gives the swimmers less than a week to spend at home.

“A week at home is fine. It’s enough time to see family and friends,” Krna said. “Right now, everybody’s supposed to be dedicated to the team.”

The time spent together, free from classes, allows each team to concentrate solely on its sport.

“You’re getting away from all those other distractions,” Krna said. “It’s an escape.”

The men’s hockey team leaves at the same time as other students on break, but their destination is the fiercely competitive Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.

Tomorrow night Harvard begins by facing Northern Michigan, a squad that was just bumped from a top-15 ranking. The winner of that contest will face the winner of top-ranked Minnesota’s bout with Merrimack.

The men’s basketball team’s game schedule over break will span the East Coast, heading to New York and South Carolina for three games. The squad returns home before reading period to play Dartmouth Jan. 2.

The women’s team will play Binghamton in an away game Dec. 30 before opening the new year against Stony Brook at home Jan. 3.

A portion of the wrestling team will return to campus Dec. 26 before traveling to Evanston, Ill. for the Midlands Invitational.

“It’s one of the most difficult tournaments of the year,” Mankovich said.

Regardless of where the athletes are, it is uncertain how much of a break they could have at home. Those who aren’t kept on campus or brought to the tropics for winter training are expected to maintain physical condition on their own.

“They take Christmas Day off, usually, but train at home,” Morawski said.

—Crimson staff writer Samuel C. Scott can be reached at sscott@fas.harvard.edu.

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