What it’s like to spend winter break on campus as a student-athlete


Photo by Caroline Burns for The Lafayette

Lafayette student-athletes experience a relatively empty campus over winter break while preparing for their spring seasons. (Photo by Caroline Burns ’22 for The Lafayette)

By Eric Ponieman, Contributing Writer

Most students view winter break as a time to unwind. After final exams, students take several weeks off to relax, refresh and recharge.

For a select group, however, this period is cut short. The men’s lacrosse and track and field teams, for example, set an initial report date of Jan. 2, 2022. With spring semester classes beginning on Jan. 24, student-athletes spend a substantial amount of time with the campus essentially to themselves.

The first major difference on campus at this time is that there were no dining halls open for the entirety of winter recess. That meant teams had to find ways to make sure their athletes were receiving a steady supply of meals.

“We got 90 bucks every Sunday, in cash,” freshman track and field pole vaulter Jack Lynett said.

Many used these funds to buy groceries. The emptiness and lack of dining hall availability brought teams closer together, as teammates would then meet at building kitchens and collaborate in order to ensure that nobody was left hungry.

“We made big dinners,” Lynett said. “Some people brought food, while others brought pans and other supplies.” 

The men’s lacrosse team took a different approach, choosing not to make their athletes responsible for preparing their own meals.

“Coaches set up catering for each meal. Sometimes they would bring it over to campus or we would pick it up directly. We ate in groups,” freshman Matthew Skibniewski said.

There were many other notable parts of living on a college campus without any other students or faculty around. These were things that people may not think about when considering what it would be like to live at Lafayette over break.

“Everything was really clean. There were always at least two or three washing machines available, and all the dryers were often open. But it was also very quiet. Almost no one was here. Now it seems like there are so many people,” Lynett said.

“Everything was easier because there were less people,” Skibniewski said. “I got pretty used to it. It was weird seeing everyone back on campus.”

In terms of the sport itself, the men’s lacrosse team’s training schedule largely depended on the weather conditions. Thankfully, staff worked diligently in assuring that the elements would not significantly affect the team’s regiment. 

“Some days we’d have morning practice, and occasionally we’d have it in the afternoon. It depended on when the snow was removed from the field,” Skibniewski said. “We also had many meetings and lifts throughout the weeks…There was one day we had to move inside because it was too cold. The school did a great job plowing the field. Sometimes practice was postponed to later in the day, but not a single one was ever fully canceled.”