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NHS Chief Advocate

Some Play and Some Go During Spring Break

Nonnewaug freshman baseball player Ashton Elsemore bats during an April 8 game against Shepaug. Elsemore and most baseball players do not travel for spring break because the team has games and practices that week. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)

WOODBURY — April vacation is a time in the middle of the long months to take a break. Many students look forward to tropical vacations or even to just relax and not have to worry about anything involving school.

For some student-athletes, though, their break is full of practices and games to keep momentum and because some teams have games during it.

Declan Curtin, the athletic director at Nonnewaug, feels for both sides. 

“I’ve been around this business for 25 years, and the discussion on April break is one that has always been questioned by parents, athletes, and athletic directors,” Curtin says. “A few years ago, our [Berkshire] League really tried to push the concept that all teams should be playing and practicing over the break. Certain teams and sports took that request and have 100% bought into that, most notably softball and baseball; other sports pushed back on it and said that they weren’t going to show up, play or compete, and that made it very difficult for organizing purposes to have a clear message for everyone that we all should really be doing the same thing.”

Ashton Elsemore, a freshman on the baseball team, doesn’t mind having games and practices throughout break because he wants to keep his position that could be replaced while gone on a break. 

“I don’t really mind it because I enjoy playing the game,” Elsemore says. “We have three or four games, and if I don’t go to practice, I won’t be able to play in the games.” 

Assistant baseball coach Kyle Brennan says that playing throughout April break not only benefit the player as an individual but also as a team to keep up the training and good work. The Chiefs will face Housatonic, Wamogo, and Gilbert during the week and will practice on non-game days.

“We have games scheduled during April break, so players that miss those games give other players an opportunity to step up and earn playing time throughout the rest of the season,” Brennan says. “Since the spring season is so short, missing a week during the middle of the season not only costs players games but causes them to fall behind in terms of skill levels with other athletes.”

Brennan conceded that this might be an adjustment for first-year players, but veteran athletes should know the program’s expectations.

“While it may be new to freshman athletes, we encourage our upperclassmen returning to the program to make sure their parents know as best as possible to try and schedule trips not during spring break if they’re a baseball player,” Brennan adds.

Even though some student-athletes like Elsemore don’t mind having sports during break, others dislike coaches deciding whether to have practices and having games over spring break. 

Nonnewaug senior Maggie Keane serves during a match for the Chiefs. There are no Berkshire League tennis matches during schools’ spring breaks. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)

“I don’t like the idea of having coaches have practice during the break,” freshman track athlete Max Nichols says. “I’d rather go on vacation, and I think a lot of others will too because many athletes need a break.”

The track team doesn’t have a meet during break but will practice for half the week. That’s more than the girls tennis team, which has no matches and only a couple of practices scheduled.

“I think that it’s not the best idea because it’s an athlete’s one time that they could be on vacation or have time off of sports,” freshman tennis player Julia Gwiazdoski added. “We all need a break and spring break is kind of the one time they can.”

Curtin sees the need to get better during the break, but he also thinks family is important to athletes and that’s why there is leeway between the two choices.

“Truth be told, I’m a fan of family,” Curtin says. “I believe and support you to get away so that when you are here, you’re better and that you’re really good at what you do. Therefore, I personally have no issue with families taking that time to recharge, to go away and to get away from the sport. At the same time, I also support coaches who are running a team and who want to have consistency for all. If they do want to practice, I believe when you sign up for that team, you make the commitment.”

In the end, Curtin says that the issue requires clear communication and an understanding of what it means to be part of a team.

“I 100% support a coach who says at the beginning of the year, ‘We’re staying here for April break and I expect you to be here,'” Curtin says. “That’s only fair to everyone else who makes the commitment. That’s what you’re going to do when you’re on a team; you might have to make sacrifices. At the same time, I understand the family side of things, and I do have a bleeding heart for family and spending time together because the rest of the year is often dictated by sports.”

About the Contributor
Ava Hirleman '27
Ava Hirleman '27, Reporter
Ava Hirleman is a freshman at Nonnewaug who writes for the NHS Chief Advocate. She is from Bethlehem, and this is her first year as a Chief Advocate writer. Ava plays field hockey and tennis. She enjoys writing about sports, school events, and the community.
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