From the Locker Room to the Classroom: Diary of a Student Athlete

Beep, Beep, Beep. These are the first sounds of Senior Women’s Lacrosse player Molly Danko’s mornings. Each day she rolls over in her dark room to turn off the incessant beeping that begins her day at 6:30 am. Pleasant, right?

For most of the DU Student Body, 6:30 am is a time of sleep. For members of Denver’s Women’s Lacrosse team, this is breakfast time every day of the week. The best way to describe Life as a student athlete? “Imagine having a boss while you’re in College. Deadlines are final and second chances are far and few between. And being late? Well That’s just a sure way to get you fired.” Says Danko. Thus, a 6:30 am wake up call allots enough time to prepare for an 8 am practice time.

Molly greets her three roommates in the kitchen, where coffee has already been brewed and breakfast is being consumed. Around 7:15, Danko leaves the apartment to make her way to Treatment, a vital part of health and wellness for DU Student Athletes. The bottom of the Ritchie Center is a hub for members of the Athletic department. This basement houses the Strength and Conditioning gym, the pool, various locker rooms, the equipment room, a practice gym, and a Training room. The training room is where treatment takes place, a requirement both before and after practice, separate of the 4 hours from 8 am to 12 pm that Molly and members of her team set aside out of their day for Lacrosse related activities. Here, Molly heats a tight hip, bandages blisters, and gets her ankles wrapped by the trainer in preparation for practice that day.

Making her way to the equipment room, Danko retrieves her practice clothes from a small cubed locker.for the day, which were turned in the night before on a loop and washed by the Universities equipment manager, affectionately known to the student athletes as “Mike.” According to Mike, he does the laundry of nearly 300 Student Athletes each evening in order to have them ready for their respective practices each day. Mike is in charge of uniform distribution in addition to any other “soft” gear, that teams require.

Next on the agenda is Lift. Danko heads to the strength and conditioning gym, where S&C coach Gary Boros leads the team through an hour long lifting routine. “It can be pretty tiring going right from lift to practice,” says Danko. “It depends on the day, I’m always sore after we have a heavier lift. Some weeks are “de-load” weeks where the lifts are lighter, those are my favorite.” S&C coach Gary Boros says that the team follows a “strict workout schedule.” An hour out of their allotted four is dedicated to strength and conditioning. Mondays and Wednesday’s are for lifting, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are for conditioning. “The weight room opens around 5am and the first athletes come in around 5:30. The last athletes leave around 7pm at night. Teams are in and out of here all day long. It’s a grind.” Says Boros, one of the three strength trainers that works with DU’s varsity teams.

After an hour of lifting with her teammates, Danko heads to the film room for scout, the team plays Vanderbilt University on Wednesday April 12. “We watch film and go over personnel before each game.” Says Danko. Coach Liza Kelly, who has been at DU for 11 years this fall, leads the team through Scout. After an hour of film and talking, the team is dismissed to get dressed for practice.

In the locker room, music blasts from a speaker in the corner. The team changes into pennies and “hard gear,” (Sticks, goggles, mouth guards.) and heads out to the field for a warmup with S&C coach Gary Boros once again. It is around 10 am now, the practice schedule is set to end with the last activity at 11:30. Lacrosse players consider these “long days,” says Senior goaltender Maddy Stevenson. This usually causes a “rush to class at 12pm” for most teammates, says Stevenson.

The next two hours consist of groundball drills, shooting shuttles, full field clear practice, and a run through of Vanderbilt’s attacking sets for the defenders. At the end of practice, Coach Kelly signals to the players that the day is over with her signature, “Shag em,” letting everyone know it’s time to pick up the balls and head to the center of the field to wrap things up.

Teammates watch as fellow players run through drills.

Players circle up at the center of the field to recap the day with their Coaches

During practice

“We end every practice with a circle at the end,” Says Coach Kelly, “We talk about practice that day. Everyone’s voice is heard and it gives players a chance to speak up about what we did that day.” The players speak first, and then the coaches, ending with Coach Kelly having the last words. After that, the players circle up, cheer, and jog into the locker room. It is now 11:50, giving players 10 minutes to shower and head to their 12pm classes.

“It’s definitely a Long morning,” says Danko, “It ensures that I am wide awake for my classes the rest of the day until I hit a wall at about 2pm.” After a comment regarding being “done for the day,” Danko laughs. “I wish!” She says, “I’ve got 4 hours of class ahead, an essay to write, and have to be back here at 4 pm for more film with Liza (Kelly) and study hall.” Long story short; for Student Athletes, the grind never stops.

Catch the Women’s Lacrosse team against Vanderbilt University this Wednesday April 11th at 1pm on Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

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