Winter Walkthroughs: How Our Athletes Spend Their Breaks

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Photo: Liz Flynn

Photo: Liz Flynn

With the first month of the year coming to a close, college students are returning to school from winter break. Throughout the first week back, students will reunite with their friends whom they haven’t seen in five weeks, and talk about what they did during their time off. Some students may have chosen to take it easy and just binge-watch Netflix. Others might have gone on a trip to someplace warm. Although both things mentioned above sound nice, not everyone has the ability to spend their winter break like that.

Winter athletes may get a break academically; however, they don’t have that much of a break from the sport they play. The basketball and ice hockey teams still practice, workout, and play games while everyone else is off campus. But even though they’re all still trying to compete at a high level, winter athletes still have lives outside of hockey and basketball, and they still want to take advantage of their break when they can.

Some athletes like to stay busy over break by doing something productive. Take Quinnipiac women’s basketball senior guard Carly Fabbri, who is able to focus more on her job off the court.

“I work as a physical therapy aid,” Fabbri said. “I work down in Milford, Connecticut. I was doing that for about once or twice a week for a couple hours. I do work there during the school year too. But obviously, with break I don’t have to worry about class.”

Milford, which is 16 miles south-west of Hamden, is right next to Fabbri’s hometown of Stratford. So if Fabbri had to go to work but she didn’t have to spend the night in her off-campus house, she could just drive home and stay at her parents’ house.

Since Fabbri grew up closer to Quinnipiac than anyone else on the women’s basketball team, she can invite players over her parents’ house. This doesn’t sound like much, but the rest of her teammates get to see a different side of Carly’s mother, Tricia Fabbri, otherwise known to Carly’s teammates as Coach Fabbri.

“Obviously they see [Tricia Fabbri] as coach all the time,” Carly Fabbri said. “But when we get home, she gets to unwind a little bit, and it’s nice to be able to just take my teammates home to see my parents and not necessarily hang out with coach.”

Fabbri had a lot going on for her off the court, but some athletes prefer to stay on campus. Quinnipiac men’s basketball guard and graduate student Isaiah Washington seems to find it easier to put all his focus into his game by staying put so he can do his best to strive on the court.

“[Winter break] pretty much simplifies things,” Washington said. “You don’t have classes. You don’t have tests you need to worry about or study guides or things like that. You’re just in the gym, trying to get better, and get as many wins as you can.”

Before coming to Quinnipiac, Washington spent three seasons in the Big Ten Conference with the Penn State Nittany Lions. A native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Washington used to live little over an hour away from home, now he’s well over a four-hour drive away. But no matter where he goes to school, winter break is still the same in the Keystone state as it is in the Constitution state.

“Even though I was close to home, I didn’t really go home much during the season because there’s just so much going on. Practices, lifts, there’s not really much time to get home,” Washington said. “When you’re in a college sport that is a winter sport, your winter is that sport because that’s when the bulk of your games are. That’s when a lot of your practices are and stuff like that.”

Fabbri and Washington have had their fair share of winter breaks so they know what to expect, but out of the 73 winter athletes at Quinnipiac, 23 of them experienced their first winter break this year.

Photo: Liz Flynn

Photo: Liz Flynn

Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey freshman forward Brooke Bonsteel was one of those 23 athletes.

“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Bonsteel said. “I know that having a lot of free time over Thanksgiving break was even a little different for me because we don’t have that at home,” Bonsteel said.

Bonsteel is from Ontario, Canada just right outside of Toronto in a city called Mississauga. Since she’s not from the United States, she isn’t used to having any sort of break from school around the end of November because Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October.

In order to fill up some of the free time, the women’s hockey team held several team meetings talking about things that didn’t even involve hockey.

“We had some seminars with coaches,” Bonsteel said. “We had some seminars with our academic advisor just talking about resume building and putting some things together as the team. We had some nutrition meetings with Dana White just to talk about snacking, eating healthy, meal choices, and game day meal choices.”

Bonsteel also saw this past winter break as an opportunity to get to know more about some of her teammates that she doesn’t get to see as much as she does during the regular school year.

“As the freshmen class we spent some time together,” Bonsteel said. “Where we live, there’s four of us living on the upper floor and three of us living on the lower floor, so we don’t see each other all that often.”

During the last week of winter break, the women’s ice hockey team wasn’t playing any games, so the team decided to end what little time they had left on a high note.

“We went into [New York City] over the weekend,” Bonsteel said. “We walked around and just kind of did the touristy thing, go to Times Square and Rockefeller Center.”

The team also went Quandry, an escape room experience located in Wallingford, which is the next town over from Hamden.

“It was cool to see people working in another environment, and see who’s into thinking outside the box,” Bonsteel said.

Winter athletes might not get the same winter break that other students or student-athletes get. But at the same time they get to play the game they love, and as long as they’re having some fun along the way, whether it’s going on a day trip, getting a bite to eat, or just hanging out with friends, that’s all that matters.