Lehigh is home for winter athletes during break

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Junior pole vaulter Kaitlyn Toman, left, and sophomore pole vaulter Caity Reverand wait in line to jump during the Lehigh Season Opener on Dec. 1 at Rauch Fieldhouse. Members of Lehigh track and field, basketball and wrestling remain on campus during the winter break. (Annie Henry/B&W Staff)

For most Lehigh students, mid-December marks the beginning of a month-long break from school.

This isn’t the case for everyone.

Members of Lehigh track and field, basketball and wrestling remain on campus for practices and games, duals or meets. If they’re lucky, these athletes might go home for a few days, at most, during the holidays.

Lehigh’s campus empties out during break, leaving it a ghost town for those who stay.

“There’s not a lot to do, so you either end up hanging out with your team a lot or you end up in your room watching Netflix,” junior track and field runner Kyle Berman said. “It’s really nice at times, but can get kind of lonely.”

Berman is from San Francisco, making him too far away to travel home during break. Many of Berman’s teammates are also unable to see their families over the holidays. He said it helps that he and his teammates are close and consider themselves “one big family.”

Sophomore guard Hannah Hedstrom drives the ball up the court against NJIT at Stabler Arena Wednesday morning. The Mountain Hawks beat the Highlanders 64-50. (Michelle Wolff/B&W Staff)

The struggle is similar for the women’s basketball team, as most members aren’t able to go home for longer than a few days.

Junior forward Bryce Menendez said the team is only allowed to go home for five days over break.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “When I go home for Christmas, I don’t get to be with any of my brothers. It really takes a toll. But it is nice knowing that when our team hangs out together, we are all going through the same thing.”

Menendez said the team stays busy with a few hours of practice every day and a few games a week.

She also stressed the importance of having fun and making the most of the situation.

Lehigh senior Ryan Preisch wrestles the reigning NCAA champion in the 184-weight class, Penn State junior Bo Nickal, on Sunday at the PPL Center in Allentown. The wrestling team often passes time over winter break with movies and card games. (Sarah Epstein/B&W Staff)

“We hang out with a lot of the other athletes,” Menendez said. “We are very close with men’s basketball and wrestling. We try new restaurants and have things like movie nights.”

Senior wrestler Brandon Diaz said he and his teammates pass the time with games.

“We sometimes play some card games,” he said. “In past years, we’ve gone go-karting and laser-tagging. Sometimes, we sit at home and watch movies or play video games.”

For these athletes, winter break is more than a time to sit back and relax with friends and family. It’s about training and preparing for the upcoming season. They take these weeks to train and get ahead of the competition. 

“We never stop,” Menendez said.

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