Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Carbondale for Christmas: How SIU athletes get to celebrate the season

Carbondale+for+Christmas%3A+How+SIU+athletes+get+to+celebrate+the+season

By Dec. 16, many SIU students will be making their way back to their families’ homes, and remain there for nearly one month. SIU athletes in swim and dive, track and field and basketball will not.

Athletes will be able to travel home for some amount of time, but all of the above sports have games or meets during break. According to Quierra Love, a senior women’s basketball player, women’s basketball will receive more time off than in the past.

“This year, we’ll have about five days to go home and celebrate Christmas with our family. So it’s not too bad,” Love said. “It allows you to cherish the moments that you do have with your immediate family.”

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Five days still isn’t a lot of time. Tyranny Brown, a junior on the women’s basketball team, says not being able to spend as much time with her immediate family makes the moments she does get to spend even more precious.

“I go home and I spend pretty much every waking moment with my family, especially my mom, my dad, my brother,” Brown said.

Love places an emphasis on trying to do as much as she can with her family while home for the holidays.

“Since we don’t have a lot of time with them, you do everything you can with them at that point in time,” Love said.

Sophomore sprinter and long jumper Caleb Massiah, who is from Barbados, is rarely able to see his family due to the distance.

“I spent the whole Thanksgiving break here… even over Christmas, I might now even go all the way home,” Massiah said.

Though he may not be able to travel home, Massiah is able to use the break to take some reset.

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“My time is really just split between school and track… when I go home for break, I really try to disconnect from a lot of that and to spend a lot more time with my family.” Massiah said. “I still cater towards doing track, that’s still really important to me, but a lot of my time is really just spent with my family or with my friends doing stuff that we enjoy.”

Being in Carbondale while classes are out of session leaves athletes with a lot of spare time, as per the NCAA,  their respective teams are only able to have them for 20 hours of “countable athletically related activities” per week.

Love says that the extra time that players have allows them to spend a lot of time together and do things besides just school and basketball.

“If there’s snow outside, some of us have gone sledding, or go to the movies together, watch movies, have game nights,” Love said.

Due to the close bonds formed among each other, teammates are able to help fill the gap sometimes felt when athletes can’t be with their immediate families. Brown thinks that this year’s women’s basketball team in particular has become close.

“With this team, especially this year, I feel like we have stepped into a more family role. You don’t get that every year,” Brown said.

A connection to home and to the season can also be felt through decor; Love said that she enjoys “going to my coach’s house to help decorate.” Brown and her roommate also lean into the tradition.

“We always make the effort to decorate our house, just to keep some familiarity of how it was when we were growing up, just decorating the tree and lights and things like that,” Brown said. “We try to keep that same Christmas feeling and holiday feeling around.”

Brown is “a big fan of traditions”, whether with her family or her team. One that exists for women’s basketball: their annual white elephant t-shirt exchange.

“I find that fun, just to kind of have that tradition,” Brown said.

Even if they’re in Carbondale for much of the break, athletes still have their own traditions or things with their family and friends that they look forward to when they do go home. Massiah said one of his favorite things to do on break is seeing the ocean.

Massiah said “Regardless of whether it’s with my friends or my family, I really like going to the beach… just chilling in the sun all day.”

For Brown, seeing a Christmas light show or “opening a present the day before Christmas” is a family tradition, while one of Love’s favorite things to do while home is simply spending time with family.

One can’t forget the coaches, who are also sometimes missing out on traditions and time with their families. They play a big role for the players around the holidays. Love credits coach Kelly Bond-White and her staff for helping athletes stay together during the holidays.

“The coaches do a great job of keeping us together, keeping us doing a lot of things as a family to take away from some of the distraction that we could get from not being with our families,” Love said.

 

Sports reporter Ryan Grieser can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, be sure to follow The Daily Egyptian on Facebook and on Twitter @dailyegyptian.

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