Almost every Vassar student-athlete spends time on a nearly completely deserted campus. Winter sport athletes get to see a snow-covered campus in the early days of January, and fall athletes end their summer vacation about a week early to start preparations for their upcoming seasons.
This year, women’s volleyball, field hockey, cross country and soccer arrived on campus prior to the official start of the academic year.
An advanced arrival to campus is critical to starting the season strong. Teams know they are operating on a tight schedule and cannot afford to squander precious preparation time. By last Friday, the first of the academic year, all of the aforementioned teams had begun regular season competition.
After spending an entire summer apart, the team members spend their last days of vacation participating in practices, scrimmages, meetings and anything else needed to get back up to speed.
“Preseason is one of the most challenging weeks of training, but also crucial to the foundation of a team,” said Molly Ardren ’25, a setter for the women’s volleyball team.
Preseason was especially crucial for the women’s volleyball team this year, as they incorporated a recruiting class of six first-years after graduating five seniors.
“I think that a good preseason really sets the stage for a team, especially with the integration of new recruits,” Ardren continued. “With the constant time we spend together in preseason the team is really able to bond and build strong connections despite only knowing each other for a few days.
For Vassar’s cross country teams, early arrival paid dividends as early as Thursday at the Vassar Farm. In the Vassar Season Starter event, the men’s side tied for first place and the women’s team finished in second place.
The team is well aware of the importance of the intense but limited time they get for preseason.
“We try our best to encourage each other for our runs and we try to meet through Zoom to get to know each other, but it’s a lot more different than actually being with each other,” said Jose Magana ’25 of the men’s cross country team. “Those days of preseason helps [sic] us to build community so that when we race, we know who we’re racing for and it gives us purpose.”
And for first-year men’s soccer head coach Jonathan Hood, preseason training on campus helped his team earn a decisive 4-0 victory over Mount Saint Mary in Newburgh on Sunday.
“[The days dedicated to preseason are] a great opportunity to build chemistry and spend quality time with your teammates,” said Derek Sando ’25, who netted a brace in Sunday’s match and was named to the Liberty League Weekly Honor Roll.
“When we arrive our preseason days help with the integration because of the sheer amount of time we spend with each other everyday.”
All three student-athletes that spoke with The Miscellany News shared a common sentiment: the value of having days dedicated strictly to their sport and their teammates, something that is impossible to replicate once classes begin. For all of these teams, there might not be more important days until the postseason rolls around.