Athletes anticipate winter break training as semester comes to an end

The Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center is pictured on Aug. 28. Ann Marie Burke / The Tufts Daily

Students are experiencing a fall holiday break schedule different from previous years. Due to travel concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, students who left campus for Thanksgiving break are required to remain remote for the rest of the semester. This impacts all students, and especially athletes, since they will not be able to train on campus once they depart. That being said, athletes enjoyed a very productive fall training schedule despite these regulations .

Throughout most of the semester, except for the week prior to Thanksgiving break, teams were able to lift weights and have small team training sessions weekly.

“I was extremely skeptical about how my fall season would be in terms [of] training with COVID-19 restrictions, but I was pleasantly surprised,” Abbi Adler, a first-year on the women’s soccer team, said.

Women’s soccer, and other Tufts Athletic teams, played the majority of the fall with non-contact practice, with the exception of one week in the middle of the semester during which restrictions were lifted due to a drop in cases.

“About halfway into our season, the school allowed athletic teams to practice with full contact in small cohorts,” Adler said. “This was without a doubt my favorite part of the season since it was the closest to playing ‘real soccer’ I had in a while … Unfortunately, COVID cases rose and athletic teams had to make the switch back to non-contact. However, I thoroughly enjoyed our weekly lifts as I had little prior experience in lifting as an incoming first-year.”

Adler’s positive experience this fall was shared by other first-year athletes.

“Although we couldn’t train in the weight room as much as in previous years, our team made the most of it and got in there early Monday mornings and got to work,” John Briody, a first-year on the baseball team, said. “We were also able to do on-field circuits twice a week which helped keep us in shape during the offseason.”

Both Adler and Briody traveled home for Thanksgiving break, and therefore will not return to campus until 2021. Like many other athletes who decided to go home, they will be training remotely. 

Returning home undoubtedly impacts athletes’ training regimens and poses certain challenges, especially due to an extended winter break, with students scheduled to return at the end of January.

“The most difficult thing about training from home versus with my team is playing with the same level of intensity that I would if I were with my other teammates,” Adler said. “It is sometimes hard to motivate yourself when you’re the only one training, and having a team to train with at school definitely helps everyone stay on top of things.”

Briody shared that being apart from his teammates will be another challenge.

“The hardest thing is definitely the absence of teammates. When you’re in the weight room or on the field at Tufts, you know you have your friends behind you pushing you through the workout,” Briody said. “At home, you have to keep yourself motivated because if you don’t, then everyone will be a step ahead of you when you get back.”

Despite the challenges, Adler, Briody and other athletes will remain focused on their training over winter break. Many athletes stick to a training regimen while at home to best prepare for their return to campus.

“I am fortunate enough to live five minutes away from an accessible soccer field. Because I live in North Carolina, the months of December and January aren’t too cold to practice outside, and we rarely get snow. With this in mind, I will absolutely be able to continue my athletic training,” Adler said. “I try and at least do one thing a day, whether that be playing soccer, running, lifting or yoga.”

Similar to Adler, Briody will keep up his training from home. With a set schedule for each week, he will be using a program from his coach to guide his training.

“Coach Case gives us an offseason lifting program, as well as a throwing program, which keeps us focused so we’re ready to go when opening day comes,” Briody said. “At home, I look to lift three times a week and condition twice a week. Conditioning usually consists of sprints and footwork one day and long distance the other day.”

Furthermore, Briody will also be preparing for a fitness test in the spring.

“For baseball, position players and pitchers have different fitness tests to look forward to when we return to campus. As an outfielder, I’ll spend my winter training to beat the 5:45 mile time that’s waiting for me back in Medford,” Briody noted.

Both Adler and Briody embody the resiliency and work ethic that is shared among the Tufts athletics community. With uncertainty still surrounding the spring, athletes are remaining committed to their craft and their programs. With the support of teammates, coaches and athletics staff, athletes will undoubtedly be prepared for their return to campus in 2021.