While many Penn students were making their way to exotic locations like Puerto Vallarta and Cabo for Spring Break, many Penn student-athletes were embarking on their own annual spring training trips. Instead of packing swimsuits, sunscreen, and dad-bods, our athletes were packing uniforms and workout clothes for long days of competition and practice.
For some spring sports like tennis, the Spring Break trip is a time of heavy competition within the bulk of the season. For others, like my teammates and me on the golf team, it signifies the real beginning of the season — the time to emerge from the depths of the weight room in Franklin Field to the warm and sunny playing field. To borrow a phrase from my coach Michael Blodgett, these are “work trips,” but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have fun like normal college kids at the same time.
Here’s an inside look at our golf team’s spring break training trip to South Carolina and how it compares to a traditional spring break.
Alarm clocks — On tournament days, we woke up around 6:00 a.m. to arrive at the golf course by 7:00-7:15. On practice days we were up by 8:00 a.m. to be at the course around 10:00. We certainly weren’t running sprints or doing erg [rowing] workouts, but golf wears you down mentally and physically – eat, practice, sleep (minimally), repeat.
Non-exotic locations — Our golf team spent Spring Break in South Carolina, but many Penn teams go to Florida for their training trip. I’m from Florida — I played golf at Florida State University for a year before transferring to Penn. Florida is a great place to go on a Spring Break training trip. Warm weather, lots of competition, South Beach? Perfect combination. But skiing in Vail, surfing in California, or sitting on a beach in Mexico.....sounds nice.
Having a schedule — When you’re on a pure vacation, you have an agenda of activities you want to do. For example, “We’re going to go swimming, hang out for a few hours, and then have dinner.” It’s not as much a plan but a framework that isn’t set in stone. During a training trip, there is a schedule. This was our schedule for the day before our tournament against Michigan State began: Wake up at 7 a.m., breakfast at 8, depart for course at 9, practice from 9:30 until 12, lunch from 12-12:30, play the course from 12:30 until 6, dinner at 7, team meeting at 9:30.
“WE WERE ON A BREAK!” — Let’s talk about the midterm, paper, and group project that are all due this week.
Escaping daily Penn responsibilities (sort of) — Just as going to the beach, skiing, or traveling home provides an escape from the constant pressure we all face, a training trip provides us that same kind of escape in a different way. Our team was fortunate enough to play some phenomenal, nationally ranked golf courses over the break – it was the most amazing golf trip I have ever taken. Additionally, who doesn’t want to play golf every day for a whole week? It was a great reminder that there is a world outside of the Penn Bubble, even when it doesn’t always feel that way.
Having a great time with your best friends — The memories we all made with our closest friends will last a lifetime. Some moments made you laugh (that one great inside joke), some moments you enjoyed greatly (see above for sitting on the Beach in Mexico), and some moments you will always remember (hopefully). Someday someone will ask you how to define your Penn experience, hopefully #SB2K17 gave you another layer to that story — I know it certainly did for me.