Sans Preseason, Winter Athletes Find Alternative Ways to Prepare

Before the season, many of the Choate varsity teams spend time preparing for the upcoming season together. The varsity sports in the fall and the spring have a preseason, but in the winter there is no preseason for the varsity sports due to the shorter break than the other two seasons. Without a preseason, the winter sports teams have less time to prepare, but somehow still have to find a way to get ready for the season.

Different athletes of different sports handle their preparation in different ways. For many of the squash athletes, playing intramural squash or practicing in their free time is a great way to get in shape and ready for the season. The Central Connecticut Aquatic Team, CCAT, practices at Choate during the weeknights, so the swimmers without a fall sport will swim with the team during the fall. There is no better way to prepare for the swimming season than swimming, which holds true for the Choate swimming program, as it has had excellent teams on both the Boys’ and Girls’ sides of the sport the past few years.

For Boys’ Varsity Hockey, many of the guys participate in Total Athlete Conditioning, also known as TAC, in the fall with trainer, Mr. Brian Holloway. TAC helps get many athletes from all sports and seasons into peak physical shape with the goal of being in top shape when the season starts.

Outside of working out, it is really important for the hockey team to be out on the ice skating and playing, so when the season rolls around, they are in mid-season form instead of shaking off the rust. Choate provides some ice time throughout the week for players to get out in a relaxed setting; however, most guys like to skate more than once or twice per week, so they join split season hockey teams from nearby.

Boys’ Varsity Hockey player Chance Gorman ’18 described it simply, “Split season hockey is a great way to spend the fall playing with and against other top players on other split teams that play prep school hockey in the winter.”

Split season allows them to play competitive games on the weekends without sacrificing their weeknights. Many of the guys on the Choate team play with each other; Gorman and Captain Faisal Al-Saif ’18 play for the same split-season team in the Yale program, while Anish Deena ’19, Chris Guyette ’19, and Patrick Mullowney ’18 play for the Springfield Rifles. For most Varsity Hockey players, split season and TAC allow them to get ready for the season as best they can without a preseason.

Many of the school’s basketball players also do TAC to prepare for the season. Outside of TAC they will shoot around whether on the courts in the athletic center, around campus, or other gyms. Elliot Sawyer-Kaplan ’18 commented on their preparation, “All through the fall we do TAC, play pickup games, and are allowed to have workouts with our coach and three people.” He added, “It’s tough to be physically and mentally prepared for the season with only four practices before our first game.”

Some members of Girls’ Varsity Basketball play together on a team in the fall outside of Choate. Just like split season hockey the girls can play competitive games without sacrificing a ton of time during the week. The players just try to find a good balance between competitive games and getting in shape for the season.

The athletes who play winter sports are at a distinct disadvantage due to their lack of preseason, but it’s always nice to imagine there is a possibility for one in the winter. When asked about whether there should be a preseason for winter sports, Gorman said, “I think winter sports could definitely use a preseason, so those who haven’t played their sport in the fall have a few days to a week to get back into a groove. It would help them get used to the competitiveness day in and day out.”

It appears the teams are doing just fine without a preseason, as Boys’ and Girls’ Varsity Basketball are off to a combined 5-0 start, and while Boys’ and Girls’ Varsity Hockey have had a few tough losses, the team has played well and seems poised to bounce back. Boys’ Varsity Squash is off to a steady, but promising start, while Girls’ Squash has collected some strong wins early in the season. Despite the disadvantages, Choate athletes are quick to adapt and make up for the lack of preseason time.

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