The sound of the engine hums a monotone tune. Cars rush by in the left lane.
You’re given a bump when your driver barrels over a pothole. You hear sound of an old Adam Sandler comedy in the background, but no one’s actually watching.
The new Springfield College athletics coach bus is still an hour away from its destination, and all there is to look at out the window are bare, withering trees.
Such are common occurrences in any road trip for Springfield College athletes. Some will pass the time by listening to music. Others will have conversations about things pertaining to nothing in particular. Everyone is doing what they need to do to get focused for the task ahead of them.
For some, the bus trip is a chance to distance themselves from the daily battle all student athletes face. Exams, mid-terms, long papers; this is an opportunity to get ay from all that and represent their school playing the game they love.
Yet for others, this may be the best chance they get in their busy schedule to catch up on some schoolwork.
It is understood as a student-athlete that these are part of the challenges they will face as they continue to pursue the sport they love. However, what many outside people may not understand, is that the offseason is where student-athletes are really tested.
Timothy Wood, a sophomore on the men’s soccer team, is one of the man student-athletes who don the maroon and white and experience the busy lifestyle that being a student-athlete brings.
Wood along with his teammates just wrapped up competition in an 8 team spring tournament, where the Pride brought home the championship, their second in just six months.
Wood helped Springfield take down Endicott in the ECAC Championship this past November.
Wood again was a key cog in this most recent championship, beating the Western New England goaltender in the bottom right corner of the goal on a penalty kick, to lift the Pride over their cross-town rivals.
It’s nice to bring home this hardware, but Wood is aware that the real goal of a NEWMAC Championship and NCAA berth awaits in the fall. However, all of this work in the spring will help better prepare the team for the fall season.
“The spring tournament is more of a culmination of the effort we put in during the offseason, and it is that effort that carries the momentum into the summer and into the preseason of the next year,” Wood said. “Even though it’s the offseason its still just a really fun experience for the guys and to win two championships in six months is a huge success.”
Wood was quick to mention that it all starts with the effort that they have put in over the past four weeks of the offseason
But how much work, time and preparation do student-athletes put in during the offseason? Hint, it’s over 150 hours.
For the soccer team in particular, it is actually a more busy and demanding time than when they are in season.
“The spring season is much more physically demanding,” Wood said.
“We have lift 3 times per week, kick arounds [which consist of agility and small-sided games] 2 times per week, and we play in an indoor league at AIC on the weekends. On top of that, the majority of our team also comes together to do extra workouts throughout the week.”
It does not end there. While most students look forward to afternoons laying out in the sun, playing Kan Jam and relaxing, after spring break, the hard work and commitment required of all student-athletes continues on.
“After spring break we have our spring season, which consists of lifts 3 times per week and team practices on the days that we don’t have lift, which generally last about 4 hours [combining practice and video].”
It is this type of dedication last offseason that helped lead the team on a successful journey this past fall kept the team in action all the way until November 15th, yet, still, there is no rest for the team this spring, or the summer, for that matter.
“Some of the leaders on the team are organizing some summer sessions,” Wood said. “It’s easy for some of the guys who live within an hour of campus to get down here and play, but for me and the others who live a little further away we are on our own. That involves a lot of lifting (4-5 times a week), doing a lot of agility and quickness drills with cones and playing pickup from time to time. We also have some camps a few weeks before preseason where the guys can get together and meet some of the newcomers and that gives us the opportunity to train with them a little bit before preseason.”
So while the long bus rides across New England can certainly be reflective of the daily grind of a collegiate student-athlete, it is really the work done in the offseason that makes it all possible. And if the men’s soccer team is a reflection of that, it has been a swish