RIT athletes dive into competition during winter intersession

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A. Sue Weisler

Members of the RIT swim team.

For nearly 18,000 RIT undergraduate students, the winter intersession was a five-week break from the rigors of academics. But for 280 members of RIT’s athletic teams who collectively participate in nine winter sports, intersession was about forging bonds with teammates and connecting with the community.

With athletic competition gearing up after Jan. 1, winter student-athletes were required to come back to RIT nearly four weeks prior to the start of the spring semester. Student-athletes can opt to take classes during the intersession, but due to the expense, choose not to. In addition, on-campus residence halls are closed during the intersession and dining options are limited.

So, how do our student-athletes spend their time during winter intersession?

“We have become closer as a team because we are always around each other as one big group, doing things we would not do if classes were in session, such as team meals or other activities, like bowling, or movie night,” said third-year women’s basketball captain Maria Edwards, a business management major from Forest Hill, Md.

Many teams practice in the mornings and fit in another practice or workout on non-game days. Other teams practice just once a day, which leaves down time for the student-athletes, who during the regular school year are normally inundated with classes and homework, putting their time-management skills to the test.

“We had initial concerns, with many factors, from how would our student-athletes on campus manage down time, to addressing living situations for freshmen, and proper nutrition for all athletes, in addition to managing our budget, but with the help of Finance and Administration through various channels, it has been successful,” said Lou Spiotti, RIT’s executive director of athletics.

For RIT coaches, intersession has brought with it new challenges—keeping their players occupied and figuring out how to utilize intersession as a competitive advantage. Another challenge for the administration was providing housing and meals for the student-athletes for nearly four weeks.

First-year student-athletes reside at the RIT Inn and Conference Center, with dining services and athletics partnering to keep the student-athletes properly fed.

“For us, its having our athletes focus and spend extra time on various techniques, something we do not have the luxury of when classes are in session,” said David Warth, who is in his 18th season as the RIT men’s and women’s track and field head coach.

“We had our staff on hand, so it made sense to team up with athletes to make a proper menu, keep the student-athletes on campus, and give them proper nutrition,” said Kory Samuels, RIT’s Executive Director of Dining Services. “It was also great to see the athletes and coaches from different teams eating with each other, building a great sense of camaraderie.”

“It was really great to see what looked like 20 tables in the SAU all moved together for lunch. It looked like one giant family eating, conversing and having a great time, which we would never be able to do while classes are in session,” added Warth.

“It’s a great time to focus on training without the stress of school work,” said second-year swimmer Alex Cutri, a management information systems major from Victor, N.Y. “We get to know our freshmen a lot better and work on the finer techniques in the pool. January is our hardest working month of the year.”

More on RIT student-athletes

Many RIT athletic teams scheduled team activities, held practices and competed during winter intersession.

  • Teams on campus during winter intersession were men’s and women’s hockey, wrestling, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s track and field, and men’s and women’s swimming and diving.
  • The swimming and diving team traveled to Indian River College in Florida for its annual weeklong training trip on Dec. 27, before heading back to Rochester in early January.
  • On Jan. 12, the men’s hockey team competed in a 3-on-3 tournament at a local outdoor rink in a Rochester suburb.

“The ability to focus on being an athlete and be an ambassador to the Rochester community without any distractions during this time is a little reward for the great work they put in the classroom, as attested to our 3.23 fall 2014 cumulative GPA,” added Lou Spiotti, executive director of athletics.

Video extra

For a behind-the-scenes look at RIT's student-athletes, go to bit.ly/RITIntersessionAthletics.