While many families spend their holiday break debating whether or not to get a spruce or pine Christmas tree, the Kent State women’s basketball team has its mind set on another type: a palm tree.
As many Ohioans brave the blistering cold and snowy weather of the Midwest, the Flashes will be enjoying the fantasy life this holiday break when they travel to Hawaii for a four-day stay.
“This is my 17th year here and we’ve never gone to Hawaii, we’ve never gone outside the (mainland of the) country before,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “We have two games and we’ll get there on Dec. 27 and leave on the 31st, so hopefully there should be some free time for the girls.
“We take these trips for two reasons. Obviously the first is to win ball games, but we also want to give the players a chance to see some places they may not have seen before and get a chance to experience and enjoy it a little bit.”
The 4-1 Flashes have just four days to relax and spend time with their families, after that they embark on a stretch of six away games in their next seven contests.
“Well, we only get four days off for break, so I’m going to spend most of that time with my family,” junior forward La’kia Stewart said. “We get off from Dec. 22-25, so I’m just going to cherish that time I’ll have with my family and friends.”
With the majority of students leaving campus for the holiday break, halls are closed and cafeterias shut down. The lack of things to do becomes more apparent then ever during this time at the university, leaving the student-athletes left on campus to search for alternative ways to ease their boredom.
“We’ll be practicing through a lot of that break,” Stewart said. “But I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time together going Christmas shopping, watching movies, doing whatever we can to keep from getting bored. Since nothing will be open on campus, they have restaurants set up to provide us with dinner and stuff. We don’t all have to go together at one time, but I’m sure we’ll all be going in our groups to eat together.”
Everyone except the three freshman and one sophomore on the team will be stuck on campus, while some players such as freshman Michelle Hamblin are forced to move into other halls.
“I don’t live close enough to commute, so with the dorms closing they are going to send some of us to Leebrick (Hall) or Centennial (Court),” said Hamblin. “I live in Olson, so I’m sure I’ll have to pack some of my stuff up and move out for the break.”
In addition to the Christmas holiday, the players are also forced to deal with juggling practices and games with finals. This task proves to be troublesome to some, as Hamblin has noticed in her first year at Kent State.
“With the situation this weekend, we have an away game Saturday and I have two finals Monday,” Hamblin explained. “We’ll be getting back around Saturday at midnight, so obviously I won’t have time to study that day. I’ll spend most of my day Sunday studying, but we really don’t have a lot of time.”
Despite all the stress that often accompanies finals week, many of the players are excited for what lies ahead in the next few weeks. Not only will it feature a four-day stint in Hawaii, but also a trip to Texas for the Flint Hills Resources Islander Classic in Corpus Christi.
“Going home is the main thing I’ll be looking forward to this break,” Hamblin said. “But I’m also really looking forward to going to Texas and Hawaii. I’ve never been to Texas and I’ve never been to Hawaii, so this is definitely new to me. I’m looking forward to the experience.”
Lindsay, who will head home to the Boston area during his four days off, also looks forward to the eventful break. Though the long trips are sure to make for a fun experience, Lindsay said they are designed just as much for the program as the players.
“I tell our players every year, that whenever all they have to do is play basketball for three weeks, it’s a great opportunity for them to get better,” Lindsay said. “They don’t have to worry about classes or tests and they get to play pressure-free from an academic stand point. It’s a great opportunity for them to get better basketball wise.”
Contact women’s basketball reporter Matt Gottfried at [email protected]