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In 2019, junior defender RC Williams and the rest of Penn men's soccer are looking to build upon their 5-5-6 record from last season.

Credit: Son Nguyen

While many students are just arriving back to campus to begin the school year, fall sports are ending their preseason training sessions.

Many players on Penn men's soccer have been on campus since Aug. 6. While several of them stayed sharp by competing in leagues over the summer, coming back and practicing as a team helps to develop chemistry both on and off the field. Team bonding is even more important when the team is alone on campus because so much of the players’ time is spent together.

“[Being alone on campus] is really helpful for our group dynamics. We really stress team community and culture, so being together as much as possible is really beneficial,” junior defender RC Williams said. “It’s good that we are able to come back and spend all of our time together since that’s something that plays a role in our success.”

Women’s soccer also used its time alone on campus to the players' advantage. Without classes, the team can concentrate on soccer, and without other students on campus, they can also bond as a team.

“It’s a great time to integrate the freshmen into campus and Penn as a whole before the entire school gets back,” senior defender Laura Hamilton said. “It’s also a great opportunity to focus in on training and getting better as a team since we don’t have classes to worry about.

“We also have a lot of team bonding sessions to hone in on our team culture and get to know the new players better. We played a game where our parents sent in funny baby stories and pictures and we had to guess which story went with which player.”

Women’s soccer typically has team meetings in both the morning and afternoon before practice session. Throughout the day, the players eat most meals together and nap in the locker room to rest for the afternoon session. 

Volleyball has a 10-day schedule before the preseason officially begins. This team bonding time is called “10 Days,” which are the days leading up to the beginning of preseason. 

“Essentially, it’s a good way for freshmen to come in and for our team to bond. We do scavenger hunts around campus, team meals, team workouts, and captains’ practices,” said junior outside hitter Parker Jones, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian staffer. “It’s a good way for freshmen to get used to campus while also getting to know us.”

Preseason for volleyball consists of four three-session days. A typical day is comprised of a 6:30 a.m. wake-up, breakfast as a team, practice for two hours, lunch, practice for an hour in position groups, dinner, and then another two-hour practice, finishing the day at 9 p.m.

Football’s official report day was Aug. 21, but many players trained on campus at varying times in the summer. Being back together with the whole team for practice has its own advantages for preparing the team for the fall season.

“Getting back on campus before everyone else is really exciting because we know that we get to be on the field again,” senior offensive lineman Ace Escobedo said. “When it seems like the whole campus is only athletes, you kind of understand that football is a big reason you came to Penn.”

Football’s schedule varies day-to-day. Typically, the team has breakfast around 6:30 a.m., with the first position meeting from 7:15 a.m. to about 9:45 a.m. The players then have a walkthrough before lunch. After lunch, they prepare for practice with the trainers. Practice lasts for around two and a half hours, dinner takes an hour, and the team wraps up the day with position meetings and film session until 9 p.m. 

“We’re feeling very good about this season,” Escobedo said. “Obviously, we’re only a couple practices in, but everyone likes the direction we’re headed, and we have great energy on the field during practice.”

Other fall sports with preseason training include field hockey, track, and sprint football.

As competitions begin within the next few weeks, the teams will be able to show whether their preseason preparation has paid dividends.