For most college students, winter break is the time of the year to go home, spend the holidays with family and get a home-cooked meal. That’s not what some student-athletes have on their agenda.
Senior Tanaeya Boclair of the University of Utah women’s basketball team said the busiest time of the year for her team is right before the holidays. With the end of the semester in mid-December, Boclair and the rest of the Utes are dealing with finals on top of practices and games.
“That is kind of hectic, but once school is out, it is all just about basketball and practice,” Boclair said. “It’s really nice just to be able to focus on that and spend time with the team on the court and have time to hang out off the court and not have to worry about school.”
To prepare for finals, Boclair said the team will rehearse what they have been studying in their classes during practice since they don’t have too much extra time to study. Unfortunately, preparing for finals means the athletes aren’t as focused on the court as they would like. Sometimes, Boclair mentioned, it’s as if they are simply going through the motions.
According to Boclair, there is some jealousy seeing other athletes finish their season and students getting a break while the basketball season is just starting to pick up. Head coach Lynne Roberts said it’s something they will always have to deal with.
“Basketball is one of those weird sports where you are competing through both semesters — both fall and spring semesters — so you don’t get that down time as a student-athlete when you play basketball,” Roberts said. “You kind of give up holidays and that is one of the sacrifices. You don’t get time off for Thanksgiving and you go home for about three or four days for Christmas, which is unique [from] the average college student.”
Since the Utes can’t be with their own families for Christmas, they try to create a team environment similar to home. During winter break, they do a gift exchange and host potluck dinners. At times, the families of some of the players will visit, and that provides more support for the team from the stands.
Usually Boclair and her two roommates go to Temple Square and walk around and see the Christmas lights. This year, the three of them plan to decorate their house and maybe bake Christmas cookies. With this being Boclair’s final year with the Utes, there is one thing that awaits her that she is thrilled about.
“I’m looking forward to [being] home for the holidays,” Boclair said.