Club sports combine competition and vacation

For Division I college athletes during their sport’s season, their life is often their sport. Typically, mornings can be spent conditioning, nights practicing and weekends competing. The action is constant and time to relax is slim. The opportunities to go away, even for a weekend, rarely, if ever, arrive.

Club sport athletes are able to find a solution for this situation by combining competitions with fun. Several club sports put this into play over spring break, turning club activities into a vacation.

Baseball

The Illinois Club Baseballteam traveled to Plant City, Fla., for the NCBA Spring Training Showcase, where the team played seven games in four days, going undefeated and securing a top-5 ranking.

“Our highlight was going 7-0 and getting our name known as one of the top teams in the country but also spending three nights in Panama City Beach,” pitcher Mike Lidge said.

Men’s volleyball

The Illinois Men’s Volleyball team did not fare as well in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Las Vegas Open, where it took third.

“I do and I don’t like competing over spring break,” senior Brendan Ori said. “The week off gives us the opportunity to do things we normally would never be able to do, but it is pretty taxing on everyone, physically and mentally.”

However, the team enjoyed a variety of extracurricular activities, including seeing a Celine Dion show, watching comedian Carrot Top’s stand-up act, walking the strip and going kayaking. However, not all athletes find spring break the best time for competition.

Men’s lacrosse

The men’s volleyball club had a different type of lifestyle than Illini Lacrosse, the Illinois men’s club lacrosse team, which focused on going to Goodwill stores and dining at all-you-can-eat barbecue buffets while in Florida. They also played Florida State, a top-10 team, and lost despite a tight game. Two days later, they turned it around and defeated University of Florida, 16-13.

One thing that the lacrosse players enjoyed over break was bonding as a team.

“Spring break is when the team really clicks and all the lines start working together,” junior Chris Holmes said. “It is when our whole team is working as a unit and not a couple of players carrying us.”

Waterski and wakeboard

Another team that bonded over break was the Illini Waterski and Wakeboard Club, which took spring break as an opportunity to have a learning experience instead of competing. The team traveled to Panama City Beach, Fla., for three days before heading to Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., for Pickos Ski and Wakeboard School.

The team skied four times a day, learning about three types of skiing: slalom, tripping and jumping. They were trained by world-class skiers from across the world, sophomore Sarah Trevor said.

Trevor celebrated her birthday while at ski school and had the time of her life.

“It was great spending time with the team and meeting people from around the world,” Trevor said.