Blue athletes talk about studying abroad while on a sports team
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 10:10
Every year, many Wellesley athletes must decide whether it is worth it for them to miss a semester of training with their teams in order to go abroad. Several athletes share the various factors behind their decisions.
Lauren Goldfarb ’13 knew that she wanted to go abroad last fall so that she could experience life in another country, but worried about missing the softball team’s off-season training. “It was challenging at times because we do have a fall season, though it’s short,” she said.
Ultimately, Goldfarb decided to go to Sydney University, and played with the softball team there. Practices for the Sydney softball team were much less frequent than they would have been back at Wellesley, so Goldfarb did a lot of running on her own to stay in shape. While her teammates back home were lifting multiple times a week, Goldfarb wasn’t able to train as comprehensively due to the high price of gym memberships in Sydney.
For Goldfarb, the transition back to Wellesley athletics was relatively smooth. Because she was in Sydney from July to mid-November, she had a few months at home to practice and lift. “I came back in decent shape. I wouldn’t say it was at the same level as it would have been if I had stayed at Wellesley, but for as much time as I had been away, I feel like I came back in pretty good shape,” Goldfarb said.
Her teammate, Mara Blesoff ’13, spent last fall in Buenos Aires. She experienced similar difficulties in finding a good place to train, but altogether considered the semester abroad very worthwhile.
Blesoff was also trying to follow the softball team’s lifting and conditioning program as best as she could. “I actually got a job in Argentina so I could pay for things like a gym membership, which I was able to do,” she said. But she was also conflicted between experiencing a new way of life in South America and carving out time to work out, something that plays such a large role in her life at home.
Although she worried about how the team dynamic would play out in the spring, when six of the seven juniors on the team returned from abroad, Blesoff experienced a smooth transition. She said that the returning players back at Wellesley helped the large first-year class to integrate into a team atmosphere, so that everything fell into place when she and her classmates returned from abroad.
Since Blesoff had been heavily involved in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) prior to going abroad, she was offered a chance to run for a leadership position on the committee. “I was a little conflicted about whether it would be appropriate for me to run while I wasn’t there,” she said. Ultimately Blesoff got the position and video-conferenced into the general meeting that she missed.
Runner Eden Bass ’13 spent spring semester in Jordan, which meant that she had to miss half of her winter track season and all of spring track. She also had to find a place to train, and ultimately decided to join an all-women’s gym in Amman.
“I couldn’t run outside, especially in the part of the city I was in. It would have been inappropriate, and there was nowhere to run outside because the streets were really crowded,” she said.
Because she is a three-season athlete, Bass was able to run cross country in the fall despite missing most of her track seasons. “I would have loved to be with my team, but I knew that going abroad would be the best way to learn a language,” she said.
Bass also noted that her coaching staff was incredibly supportive of her decision to go abroad, and have helped her slowly build up her mileage so that she can transition back into collegiate running without risking injuries.
However, going abroad poses special challenges for student athletes on teams that only compete in the winter. The winter season spans both semesters and players would have to miss part of their regular seasons in order to do a semester-long program. Basketball players Malia Maier ’13 and Ashleigh Sargent ’13 didn’t want to miss any of basketball season and, therefore, decided not to spend a semester abroad.
“Basketball stretches across two semesters, and it was so important for me to be here that I never really thought about [going abroad],” Sargent said. She felt that she would be able to travel at any time in her life, while she would only have four years to play college basketball.
Maier also decided not to study abroad for a semester, and instead chose to spend a summer in Spain. “I didn’t want to come in late because I would miss out on building relationships with our first-years, and I would risk throwing off team chemistry on and off the court. I also didn’t want to play the first half of the season and not be there for the second half, which is what we work all year for,” she said.