College students are busy by nature, and any student with extracurricular activities finds themselves busier than others. Cal Poly’s athletes are no exception. Each athlete practices for hours every day with the team and even more on their own in addition to attending classes and doing homework — these athletes are some of the busiest of the season.
Football players assemble for a talk about their game with U.C. Davis. Players usually get to the field at 6:40 a.m. to talk to coaches and warm up before their 7 a.m. practice, according to linebacker Carlton Gillespie, a psychology senior. From there, the players practice individual drills and team drills until about 8:30 a.m.
Linebackers and quarterbacks split up into groups to talk to their respective coaches. In addition to practice, each player also lifts for an hour and a half a day. When they are not in classes, Gillespie said, players are meeting with coaches.
The quarterbacks watch their coaches run laps after practice. For home games, the team does a walk-through of the stadium on the day before the game, practices without pads and has a team dinner at Baja Surf, which is opened up just for them. On the day of the game, they have another team dinner and get on the field at least two hours before the game to warm up.
Linebackers split into groups to talk to their coaches after practice and prepare for their game the next day. For away games, the team travels to the stadium and then does a walk-through, practice and dinner like they would for a home game. While at the hotel, they have either meetings with coaches or some free time.
In addition to training and lifting, all of Cal Poly’s football players go to academic game plan meetings at the Sandwich Factory every day. Here players talk to coaches about their school work to help them keep on track to graduate. Kyle Shotwell, a coach for Gillespie and the other linebackers, said the meetings show the players that they’re not just athletes. Gillespie said the meetings make him budget his time better.
Tennis player Brittany Blalock, a business management senior, and her teammates practice at least three hours a day as well as lift three days a week. While the team is still determining its lineup for the season, team members have already competed in individual tournaments. After the Cal Poly Invitational in November, the team began preparing for the duel match season, which starts in January and runs through the NCAA championships in May.
Blalock played against one of her teammates during a practice match as a part of her training. Head coach Hugh Bream said the girls’ academics is usually a question of “who’s a B student and who’s an A student.” Bream also said the girls like to go out together, whether it be to farmers market or the beach.
The women’s tennis team plays on the weekends, so they travel to the game on Thursday night, play on Friday and Saturday and return on Sunday. “It’s a lot of time on the road,” said Blalock, who often finds herself missing group project meetings while traveling to matches.
Blalock said that this year, the team has been particularly close-knit. “We all get along great, and we just eat, sleep and drink together,” said Blalock. “We always look forward to trips because we can be in a van together and have group dinners.”
Chris Gaschen, a business freshman and midfielder, and his teammates usually practice from 8-10 a.m. on weekdays and 8-11 a.m. on weekends. Gaschen said that weekday practices usually have more shadow play and help the team get ready for the next game. Team members spend most of their weekend practices playing practice games against each other.
Outside of practice, Gaschen and other players do a lot of technical sessions and play indoor games.
During practice, Chris Gaschen and teammates try not to drop their balls during a drill while head coach Paul Holocher looks on. Students who lose their ball must do push-ups and repeat the drill until they are able to keep the ball in the air for a set amount of time.
Players run through a rope ladder in order to practice their footwork during a practice drill. The team usually has dinner before a game around 3:30 p.m. and then goes to the locker room to start getting focused on the game. Then the coach gives a talk around 5:45 p.m before the team heads out onto the field for pre-game warm-ups.
Gaschen and his teammates often hang out and play FIFA video games together in their free time. Some players even play indoor soccer matches in order to continue their training outside of practice.