By Lauren Albright ‘16
When final exams are turned in and the number of students slowly dwindles until the campus feels eerily lifeless, there’s one thing that doesn’t stop. The lights in the BCLC switch on and the echoes of bouncing balls create an air of dedication. The men’s and women’s basketball teams are here to train and they mean business.
While the athletes are able to enjoy a 10-day break starting right after exams, they return to an empty campus, find a parking spot with ease, and commence in a late night practice. This commitment may take away from family time at home, but the teams find that having the opportunity to practice and play without any other academic commitments proves to be very beneficial. Dy’nelle Todman, a junior on the women’s team, says, “This is an important time in our season because this is when we get ready for conference play. We evaluate some things from the first half of the season that we need to improve in order to prepare for the second half.” Last season, the Women’s team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, which was hosted at Rhodes College. With hopes of further advancement and hosting the NCAAs a second time, the break is an essential time to prepare.
Besides training hard and often, the teams are able to take advantage of having zero homework. Movies, dinners at favorite Memphis restaurants, and Christmas parties give the athletes time to wind down and enjoy being in each other’s company. When asked about a typical day during break, senior men’s player Johnny Dunavant replied, “We…spending every day with each other…it creates a level of camaraderie that is unique to the group of guys that stay. It gives us the opportunity to not only grow as a basketball team, but also the opportunity to grow as friends and continue to strengthen the team’s chemistry, on and off the court.” Most everyone in these programs agree that this is an optimal time for team bonding. Men’s coach, Mike DeGeorge says, “The break is a time when our players really bond. Without the academic rigors of a place like Rhodes, this is a time of year where we get to focus primarily on basketball and our team…makes great strides during this time.”
Even though most students might dread the thought of having to stay on campus instead of enjoying time with family and friends, the basketball teams find a way to enjoy this time of the season every year, together, as their own kind of family. Not only does this bring each team closer, but it also helps pave the way to more successful seasons and hopefully, some national champions.