For many students, winter break is the light at the end of finals week. For Cal Poly student athletes however, it can be slightly different – especially if their sport is in season.

Due to scheduling, student athletes can be required to stay in San Luis Obispo or travel to participate in away games while other students are at home or on vacation.

“We don’t really get a winter break,” Women’s Basketball senior guard Dye Stahley said. “We do get a spring break, but we don’t get a Thanksgiving break. So while everyone is at home chilling with their friends and family, we’re here and we have practice.”

If their sport is in season, student athletes spend their breaks practicing and playing games in SLO or on the road. This can cut the time that students typically spend with family from three to four weeks to three to four days.

While this does limit the time that could be otherwise spent with friends and family, some student athletes expressed a positive outlook towards the situation.

“We only get four days off, which makes you realize if you love basketball or not,” Men’s Basketball senior forward Kuba Niziol said. “Right after finals, students go home. We just stay here and grind. This will be my fourth Christmas in a row in the U.S. away from my family, but I don’t really feel like I’m missing anything because I’m here with my team.”

Men’s Basketball senior guard Marcellus Garrick gave a more personal example of a positive part of spending much of his winter break on the basketball court.

“The good thing about this break is that my mom lives in New York now,” Garrick said. “So . . . [when] we play Siena in New York, she’ll be at that game. I know she’ll be happy about that.”

For many teams, this time of year provides valuable bonding time since every member of the team is going through the same experience.

“It helps us be closer than we already are,” Garrick said. “I think this year this team is by far the most positive team I’ve ever been on.”

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