For most McGill students, summer is a much needed break from school, stress, and Montreal construction. For some varsity athletes, however, the summer offseason does not mean that they can enjoy their family and home. The McGill Tribune sat down with three McGill student athletes to discuss their summer experiences and whether they were able to take some well-deserved rest during this time.
Though the fall sports season does not start until the end of August, McGill athlete practice and train all summer long. Santiago Sandoval, a third-year goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team from Bogota, Colombia explained that players are expected to train and play all summer so that they are in shape and ready to go when preseason camps begin in August.
“I practice two or three times a week with my club team, plus a game on the weekend,” Sandoval said. “I also go train by myself a couple of times [per week].”
The Martlets basketball team had a more intense summer preparation: They had to attend a rigorous five-week mini-camp.
“We had three practices a day: A team one, an individual shooting one, and a fitness session,” second-year point guard Delphine Robitaille said.
This offseason training is crucial for student athletes given how quickly their exhausting competitive seasons get.
“Our first tournament is [in] the third week of September,” Julie Tian, a third-year badminton player, said. “It comes really fast.”
Even if the Martlets basketball team’s regular season doesn’t start until October, players are expected to maintain peak fitness year-round, which can make it difficult to enjoy the city or to travel during the summer. However, having time off from classes and studying allows athletes to let off some steam.
“During the school year, the stress is more intense because we need to keep up good grades and balance school and sports at the same time,” Sandoval said.
According to Tian, athletes are always thinking about staying fit, but the summer gives athletes the chance to be inventive and mix other sports into their routine. Tian likes to go rock climbing and tries to spare time for volleyball while Montreal is not frozen over.
“Occasionally, I will play other sports with friends,” Santiago said. “But only for fun and not in an organized league.”
Being a varsity athlete adds greatly to the workload that the students face. Preseason camps can make it difficult to keep up with a summer course, and deferring an exam to the end of August, which is often the busiest time of the year for fall sports, is rarely an option.
“I’m probably going to have to take an extra semester to get my grades up,” Tian said.
Each athlete agreed that, although time-consuming, their varsity experiences will benefit them in the end. Robitaille, a transfer from the University of Central Florida, believes these experiences promotes hard work and an organized schedule.
“I know people that graduated in medicine and played sports for five years at McGill,” Robitaille said. “There’s always a way to get where you want to be.”
Being a student athlete, even with its drawbacks, forces players to be on top of their responsibilities. But, it also forces them to make a choice about what they prioritize over the summer months.