You know that excitement you feel when you go to bed the night before Christmas? You almost can’t sleep because it keeps you up just constantly waiting for that moment of pure bliss. That is a very common feeling for an athlete as their upcoming season approaches.
My name is Katie Donohue and I am a senior at NEC. I am also a member of the women’s ice hockey team, and our preseason just started for my final season. It’s a bittersweet feeling, almost like the taste of ice cream on a hot summer day. You’re so excited to eat it, but then before you know it, it begins to melt, so you rush to finish, and before you can go back, it’s gone. Although I hope to cherish every moment I have this year, on and off the ice, I don’t want it to fly by.
Personally, I’ve always loved the excitement during preseason. Tuesday, September 11 was our first skate, and we had to leave at 4:45 A.M.
I was up and ready at 4:00.
The first time touching the ice for the upcoming year is a feeling like no other. The smell of the cold air so early in the morning really wakes you up. The first few cold breaths while skating hard, almost makes it difficult to breathe, but feels so refreshing. So many emotions build up, but then you have to come back to reality, buckle down and get your head back into putting in the work.
I’ve been a hockey player since I was 3 years old. I followed in my dad’s footsteps, and basically learned to skate before I could walk. My dad has always been a hockey fanatic ever since he can remember. He played all his life and actually continued his journey in college as well at American International College. Hockey has always been a part of my life, it’s practically shaped me growing up.
Technically, still being an “out of season” athlete, I have more time available than I would during the season, and I hate it. Since I have been a college athlete since freshman year, I like to be on a structured schedule. Always having something to do or somewhere to be is how I prefer to live my days, and I’m sure other athletes feel the same due to the way they’ve constantly lived their lives as college students. Being on a busy schedule keeps me in line, avoiding distractions, or even falling behind. Surprisingly, when I have a schedule planned out for myself I can focus on other things in life, like schoolwork and meal prep. It forces me to make a time to set aside to accomplish what I need to do.
Everyone has some kind of family. Whether it’s by blood, a friend group, or even just a group of people who have a huge part in your life. Luckily for most athletes, we are blessed with another family, the team. As much as we disagree or argue, we always have each other’s back, just like a family does. Being out of season you constantly feel like you’re missing something, and all you want to do is to be able to be back on the ice playing the sport you love with your second family.
Something that people who don’t participate in college athletics find harder to understand is the mental and physical toughness that athletes undergo before their season even begins. Our bodies are constantly drained from either early morning skates or lifts, to managing a sleep schedule. The sleep is a shocking secret. Planning out when you actually can fall asleep and then when you need to be awake is a huge part in taking care of your body and preventing yourself from getting any of the various sicknesses that go around a small campus.
Our coaches like to keep us in shape and get us ready for the very tough upcoming season. Having a lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week makes sure that we are hitting the gym and were not falling behind for when season starts.
Sounds like a lot, right?
Just to add to it we have two days of conditioning throughout the week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, if people are consistently doing the workout, they won’t even miss a beat when season starts. They’ll be in great condition to get the season going.
After seniors graduate, it’s hard sometimes to find the chemistry with the new incoming freshman. Not only do we have to prepare our bodies for the season, but we need to be able to prepare ourselves as a whole, a team, a family.
I think the upcoming season is off to a great start with bonding. Really trusting your team starts when you first meet them, and that is why preseason is so important.