Athletes sacrifice spring break for events

Sophomore shortstop Reagan Tittle rounds third against West Georgia Feb. 20. The UNA softball team are one of four campus sports who have games during spring break.

Spring break is almost here, but not everyone will have the luxury of a week off.

With athletic sports such as baseball, softball, women’s track, tennis and golf still in season, many athletes will find themselves either in Florence practicing or on the road competing next week.

The baseball and softball teams, for example, will compete in Huntsville April 2-3, each having a three-game conference series. With UAH being a rival and Gulf South Conference opponent, practice is a must, said senior softball player Madeline Lee.

“This year, we actually get the first half of the week off for spring break,” Lee said. “Seeing the bigger picture helps with having to practice on our spring break because we want to get better and get (championship) rings in the end.”

From an athlete’s perspective, although it would be nice to use that week to visit family or take a vacation, the break provides a week away from classes. This gives the athletes more time to focus on their sport, Lee said.

“Yes, we still wish we could (enjoy spring break) like non-athletes, but this is our job,” she said. “It’s what UNA is paying us to do with our (scholarship). We love the game and strive to get better everyday and use the skills God has given us.”

The tennis team hosts Lee University April 1 at the UNA tennis complex. The women’s track team’s next event is not until April 15, which potentially allows the team time off.

The golf team hosts the UNA Spring Classic at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Ford City March 28-29, the Monday and Tuesday of spring break.

Athletes and coaches are not the only ones taking time out of their break, as administrators and members of the athletic department also plan to work events as needed, said game operations coordinator Matt Daniels, who will facilitate the golf event March 28-29.

Daniels said while it can be a hassle giving up time to visit family for the administrators, he looks at matters from the athlete’s point of view.

“(Athletes) don’t get the benefit and luxury of going home or on vacation, but it’s time they don’t have to worry about school as much, but rather more time together as a team,” he said.

The five sports in the midst of an offseason — football, basketball, soccer, volleyball and men’s cross-country — give the coaches a little more leeway for time off during the break than the five aforementioned teams.

The football team had spring break in mind when scheduling its spring practices, said UNA offensive coordinator Steadman Campbell.

“It’s worked out well the last couple of years,” Campbell said. “We feel like it’s turned out for the better this year, too. I’m sure the players enjoy being done with spring ball early. We like for them to use that week to see some family and kind of relax before our last four weeks of weights.”