Athletes hunker down for Thanksgiving

Senior+Jasmin+Edwards+slides+through+the+Sharks%27+defense+during+a+home+game.
Senior Jasmin Edwards slides through the Sharks' defense during a home game.

Senior Jasmin Edwards slides through the Sharks' defense during a home game.

James Stuck

James Stuck

Senior Jasmin Edwards slides through the Sharks' defense during a home game.

Hanson Lee, Staff Reporter

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James Stuck
Senior Jasmin Edwards slides through the Sharks’ defense during a home game.

For many athletes, Thanksgiving seems to be the perfect time of the year to go back home and spend time with the family. While this may be the case for some, many athletes aren’t able to go home and visit their families due to certain obstacles and events.

Women’s basketball buckles down

Junior Jonnae Richardson of the women’s basketball team hails from Denver, Colorado so travelling home during the holidays isn’t always an option.

“It’s definitely sad and I miss my family during the holidays,” Richardson said. “I’m definitely one of the people who brings a lot of energy to our family, so without me I bet [Thanksgiving] is pretty quiet and less interesting.”

Mackenzie Day, a sophomore forward for the Wildcats, is from Kaysville, Utah. She expressed her feelings about not always being able to go home and see her family.

“I’m the oldest of six kids and so I feel like a second mom to my siblings,” Day said “Not getting to see my siblings grow up and not being able to have the chance to go home and visit my family is definitely sad for me.”

Luckily for Day, just because she can’t go home doesn’t mean she spends her holidays alone.

“I actually have a group of friends whose families have invited me over, so I always have a place to go if I’m still here,” Day said.

Even farther away is Alexis Pana, a sophomore guard on the team, whose hometown is Hilo, Hawaii. Pana talked about what her experience has been like in the past having to spend time in Ellensburg during the break.

“It’s definitely not ideal and not always the best,” Pana said. “I just end up going to my teammates house and we end up cooking dinner which can be just as fun.”

Although the Thanksgiving break may not provide some athletes with the opportunity to go home and spend time with family, it’s important to note that there’s always an opportunity for athletes to be around people that make them happy.

“I think it’s special because they can have the opportunity to create those family bonds and have Thanksgiving here with their friends and teammates, which is kind of their second family away from home,” said women’s head coach Randi Richardson.

Randi Richardson also talked about the importance of making sure that everyone on the team feels like they’re at home during this time of the year, even when they’re not.

“We are family and we spend a lot of time together. It’s important for our kids to feel that they have a home to go to and somewhere that they can be thankful for,” Randi Richardson said. “Our players are best friends off the floor and so a lot of them spend Thanksgiving with their teammates at their teammates homes, and we always make sure that everybody has a place to go.”

Despite what may seem like a disadvantage for athletes that can’t go home and relax for the holidays, players like Jonnae Richardson have found ways to view this holiday break as a positive advantage moving forward.

I can “stay in the gym and make sure that I’m perfecting my craft and working on my weaknesses so that I can get better,” Jonnae Richardson said. “When everybody goes home, they’re all with their family and if I stay here then I can be in the gym all the time working on my game.”  

While out-of-state athletes can sometimes face the struggles of not being able to go home during the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s safe to say that competition can also hinder athletes from going home as well.

Volleyball sets their sights on postseason

With that in mind, the volleyball team is looking to make the playoffs for the sixth straight year, but in doing so, the team would have to hold practices during Thanksgiving break.

“If we make the playoffs then fortunately we’ll get the weekend off [from competition], but we will have our players come back immediately after Thanksgiving day, so they will still have to be up here during the break,” said head coach Mario Andaya.

Andaya expressed what the atmosphere would be like for the athletes on the volleyball team who wouldn’t be able to necessarily go home.

“For those kids that can’t go home, a lot of us coaches would have kids come to our house for Thanksgiving and we would kind of make it more of a home environment for them,” Andaya said.

Even though missing out on the holiday break can be a tough sacrifice, it’s important to remember that these sacrifices are sometimes necessary if athletes want to make the most of their seasons.

“For me, I love my family and so it’s tough for me, but at the same time the end is so near that you’ve just got to push through,” said junior outside hitter Madison Weg.

Weg talked about her mindset for staying motivated and focused during this time of the year if the team happens to make the playoffs.

“It’s getting to that time [of the season] where you’ve just got to push and give it your all,” Weg said. This is “where everything that you’ve worked for is starting to pay off, so you’ve just gotta keep pushing yourself and pushing your teammates.”

Weg’s teammate, Sarah Joffs, also reiterated the importance of preparing for the playoffs moving forward, even if it means sacrificing spending time at home during the break.

“We’re tired from classes, weights and practices, but what is it worth if we’re not going to keep going,” Joffs said. “I think that’s what still motivates me because I’ve put in so much time and work.”

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Athletes hunker down for Thanksgiving