Athletic commitments limit vacationing during spring break

As Matty Tellem ’07 prepares for his final spring break as a high school student, the time he has to spend with his family and friends is severely limited. Tellem, who will be playing baseball next year for the University of Pennsylvania, is an integral member of the varsity baseball team at school and must attend several games and practices that the team has scheduled during spring break.

“Coach wants us to attend every practice over break,” Tellem said. “I think his policy about practice is the more practices and games the team attends, the better we will be.”

The athletic department has established a policy regarding practices during times when school is not in session to inform students of the commitment they will have to make if they choose to play a varsity sport.

Each coach is required to give his or her team four consecutive days, weekends not included, off from practice.

Furthermore, each coach must compile a schedule of the team’s games and practices and give it to the athletes at the beginning of the season.

There are several organized bodies that dictate when a team will play its games.

CIF governs athletics across the board in the state of California. On a more local level, the school is also a member of the Catholic Athletic Association and the Mission League, both of which come into consideration when determining each sport’s game schedule for the season.

“It is unfortunate, but sports do not function in isolation,” Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas said.

“Unlike an orchestra concert, both teams must be present at a sporting event for it to occur. Since we often play schools whose breaks do not coincide with ours, and factors exist which are beyond our control, we must play by its rules.”

“Spring break hits us particularly hard because we take two weeks off,” Head of the Upper School Harry Salamandra said. “We understand that break time with one’s family is essential, and I would hope that the coaches would work with an individual if there is a problem.”

While vacation time may be used to spend time with one’s family, for many juniors, it is the most convenient time to visit colleges.

This complicates the matter because balancing the obligation to attend games and practices over break may inhibit a student from seeing all of the schools they would like to see.

Some athletes are very committed to their sport, while some only play recreationally.

“Swimmers are not penalized for taking vacations or college trips,” Head Swim Coach Dawn Barrett said. “But the simple reality is that the more dedicated the individuals are to a sport, the better their performance. To perform at the varsity level you need to train on a consistent basis.”

“What irks me is the ‘surprise factor,’” Barzdukas said. “Communication is crucial between teammates and coaches, but a student has to learn that their choices have consequences. I think that it is okay for students to miss a game to spend time with his or her family, but they have to know that their decision limits their ability to participate in other things that may be meaningful to them.”