FIREWORKS17

While many student-athletes were able to celebrate the Eagles' victory on Sunday night, practice will cause them to miss Thursday's parade.

Credit: Joy Lee

For most students, Thursday represents a chance to take a day off to celebrate the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia. 

But for Penn's contingent of in-season student athletes, days off are a luxury that are tough to come by. And with crucial matchups and championship bouts on the horizon, they need all the practice time they can get.

Still, this is a monumental occasion, and many teams have already reconfigured their schedules to accommodate the ticker-tape parade on Thursday morning. 

Perhaps the team with the most important weekend matchup is Penn fencing. The Quakers have the Ivy Championships this weekend, as the men get set to vie for their third straight title, while the women look to win for the first time since 2004.

Even with the huge competition this weekend, coach Andy Ma and the rest of his team recognized the importance of participating in the celebration. And even if they can't go in person, they still plan on taking part of the festivities.

"Some of them will go, physically will be there," Ma said. "Some of them will not be there, they'll watch TV. I don't know exactly the percentage, some will be there. They're leaving at 8:30, very early."

"My dad's from outside of Philly, so I've been an Eagles fan since I was really little," said junior foil Simone Unwalla, who is planning on attending the parade. " So, I'm super excited. First they tried to make practice in the morning so we could go, but then we realized we wanted to get there as early as possible, we're trying to go at like 8:30. So then we just made practice later on in the day afterwards."

At least for this team, the parade actually falls on a good day. With the Ivy Championships set to begin on Saturday, the celebration gives team members an extra day to relax and mentally prepare for the competition ahead. 

And for Ma, that goes exactly with his plan for the team.

"Training doesn't affect the Ivy Championship," Ma said. We're going to do very light training because some fencers prefer to take one day off, some prefer to take two days off. Since we have Friday off.. Thursday our plan is very light training anyway."

"It's cheesy, but going into this weekend, truly it's sort of like I feel like we're like the Eagles, and we've had a good season, but going into it we're definitely the underdogs on paper, but it's absolutely possible," Unwalla added.

Another team that is pressed for time this week is men's basketball. After dismantling Princeton for the second time this season on Tuesday night, the Red and Blue have just two days before they have to take the long trip up to Dartmouth for the next Ivy back-to-back

The team is full of Eagles faithful, none more so than lifelong-fan and Pa. native coach Steve Donahue. But with so many games in a short amount of time, sacrifices have to be made, and the team does not have the ability to attend. Still, the parade is affecting the team's schedule. 

"We just moved [practice] up, cause we could not have classes," Donahue said. "So I think that helped us a little bit. We can get to work earlier here, leave earlier, beat traffic, get to Dartmouth sooner than we were planning on."

"We have practice at 11, so I won't be able to go to the parade, but all my friends and my heart will be there," junior guard and Cherry Hill, N.J. native Jake Silpe said.

Meanwhile, a third team, gymnastics, is going to use the event to build further team chemistry. With the heart of their season coming up, the Quakers are going to utilize this opportunity to celebrate together.

"I think we might attend as a team with our coaches just as a team bonding event and in support of our city," freshman Darby Nelson said.

These athletes still have a lot of competing on their minds, and they will certainly be ready when the time comes. But on Thursday morning, they're going to be celebrating like everyone else.

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