Women's Winter Break Preview | Teams gear up for winter break schedule
Published: Friday, December 7, 2012
Updated: Friday, December 7, 2012 00:12
The women’s athletic teams will be looking to hit the ground running over break and will use the time to improve and develop. With the bulk of each team’s schedule coming after Christmas, many coaches feel the key to success is a strong performance over winter break.
The women’s basketball team couldn’t have asked for a better start. Tufts opened the 2012 season by accumulating seven straight wins with an average margin of victory of 19 points per game. Returning nearly every rotation player from last year’s team that reached the third round of the NCAA tournament, coach Carla Berube’s squad hasn’t missed a beat and continues to play arguably the best defense in the entire nation.
“We’re a really deep team this year, and it’s awesome that we can have so many different players contribute each game,” co-captain sophomore forward Kate Barnosky said. “We always pride ourselves on our defense, and I think that is definitely one of our strengths again this year.”
Over break, the Jumbos will focus on their consistency as a team by challenging each other every day in practice as the NESCAC schedule approaches. In addition to basketball, Barnosky explained that winter break provides a time for team bonding, which often leads to better chemistry on the court.
“Winter break is always a great time for our team to bond off the court and get better on the court,” Barnosky said. “With no classes and no one on campus, we’re with each other all the time and solely focused on basketball. I think we always seem to get a lot better in this time.”
After a pivotal game tomorrow against Bridgewater State, the Jumbos open their post-winter break schedule on Dec. 31 against Connecticut College.
For the swimming and diving team, winter break provides the perfect opportunity to improve each swimmer’s endurance and fitness, two of the most crucial aspects of the sport. The Jumbos will head into the vacation aiming to start January in the best physical condition possible.
“Our goal is to get in shape and increase our endurance,” senior tri-captain Christine Garvey said. “Swimming is an endurance sport, and in order to compete at the highest possible level, we need to train hard and increase our strength and endurance.”
It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for Tufts, who lost its first meet to begin the year. But a win over Wellesley gave them momentum going into the MIT Invitational, where they finished second out of seven teams.
The Jumbos will head to Puerto Rico on Jan. 1 for two weeks during which each day will consist of two practice sessions in the pool in addition to daily dry-land exercises. They get back into action on Jan. 19 against MIT
Like the swimming team, the women’s squash team has seen somewhat inconsistent results in its first handful of matches under the new leadership of coach Joe McManus.
Despite having to share the practice courts with the men’s squad, the team has seen definite improvement in its first five weeks of play. With a record of 2-4, the Jumbos are looking forward to winter break as an opportunity to get a lot of practice in on the court while increasing each player’s conditioning at the same time.
“Our number one priority over break is to keep our fitness up and hit the squash ball as much as possible,” senior captain Jessica Rubine said.
The Jumbos will travel to a squash academy in Orlando run by David Palmer, one of the top squash players in the world.
The facility, which also serves as the training facility for the Orlando Magic, will provide the Jumbos with ample time on regulation courts while receiving guidance from some of the game’s best instructors.
The last two teams — track and field and fencing — also have brisk winter break practice schedules. The fencing team does not have an official meet until after the first week of the spring semester, and the squad does not have any formal plans for winter break.
Instead, team members are planning on training individually at local, independent fencing clubs and participating in non-collegiate tournaments. Junior sabre captain Shelby Bean, for example, will travel to Milwaukee this weekend to compete in the North American Cup, a national tournament sponsored by the United States Fencing Association.
Overall, the Jumbos are pleased with the way their season has started. Following an impressive performance at a multi-school meet at Sacred Heart University on Nov. 11, coach Ariana Klinkov’s squad traveled to New York City to challenge the No. 9 Columbia Lions, who have several dominant fencers, including Olympic foilist Nzingha Prescod. Despite losing 23-4 to the Lions, the Jumbos were happy with the way they competed against one of the nation’s top teams.
For track and field, the break will be fairly quiet. The team preparing for its second meet of the season, the Tufts Invitational, which the Jumbos will host on Jan. 12. Like the men’s team, the squad will then turn immediately to the Dartmouth Relays the next day, providing a test of both the team’s stamina and focus as the schedule starts to get busier.