This year Centre has faced a big challenge with extreme weather conditions. Cancelling class is nearly unheard of, yet the College did so for two-and-a-half days this Spring term in order to ensure the safety of students and faculty. While many of us crowd in the warmth of our rooms or the Campus Center sipping hot chocolate and watching the flakes drop, athletes face the inclement weather unhindered.

While it may seem odd to onlookers from indoors, some athletes appreciate the cold weather. Sophomore lacrosse player Tom Whalen finds that the weather helps prepare him for trying games ahead.

“Occasionally we’ve been told we can’t go out by our trainers but we try to go out as often as we can to get used to it. Sometimes we play in the snow and we use a yellow ball to distinguish it from the snow,” Whalen said. “Sometimes you feel it’s hard to breathe but it’s nothing you can’t fight through.”

Lacrosse players are not the only ones who appreciate the physical challenge the cold brings. Sophomore soccer player Destinie Graves sees how the cold weather strengthens herself and her teammates.

“The off-season is kind of during the winter but we do some conditioning. Although most of it is inside we’ll go outside for a [few] minutes,” Graves said. “Those come in our 6 a.m. workouts which we have one day a week, and they’re just really physical activities and sometimes if it’s really cold and snowing we’ll go outside for that. It’s hard to breathe in the cold, and you’re wearing thin socks and cleats so you can touch the ball better. Your feet get cold really fast and it affects how you play.”

Soccer players are not the only ones whose performance is affected by the cold, however. Sophomore softball player Brittany Sears also feels the weather playing tricks on her.

“I can’t throw when it’s cold. My muscles don’t work the same way,” Sears said. “When you make contact with the bat, it hurts. It’s weird [because] I can’t really describe it. The way softball bats are made, if you hit it your hands sting.”

Slower reaction times are also a common symptom of the cold. Cooler weather prompts the body to increase its blood pressure and heart rate and reduce the blood flow closest to the skin, all to conserve heat. A consequence of this imbalance, however, is reduced circulation, which is quickly felt in the muscles and extremities. The cold is only amplified when the velocity of the wind picks up, resulting in the wind chill effect.

Yet athletes learn from experience how to tackle the weather. In addition to making sure they remain fueled due to glucose stores becoming depleted five-times faster in the cold weather than normal, athletes choose their clothing carefully.

“Layer up,” Sears said. “I wear Underarmor and fleeces. I always wear extra socks and a headband because if my ears and feet get cold I’m done.”

Sears’s sentiment was a popular one among other athletes as well.

“Underarmor, long sleeves, warm-ups, and coats are all easily removable stuff because you will get hot. I usually don’t wear a shirt under my jersey but I’ll wear a coat or jacket,” Graves said.

Layering up is a balance; however, as some players feel that too many layers can restrict their movement.

“Dress as warmly as you can, but you need to be able to move around. No matter what you wear, if you’re not moving around you’re going to freeze. I’m from up North so I’m pretty used to it,” Whalen said. “Even on the sidelines you have to be moving, [like] doing jumping jacks. If you stop moving, your hands go numb and then it’s harder to play.”

Yet the players are not the only ones who are affected by the cold. The game can change as well.

“We’ve lost a lot of balls that were shot into a snow bank, never to be seen again,” Whalen said. “Over break there were some days when the turf would freeze over, and that can really effect the bounce of the ball.”

Softball players on the other hand can’t play in the snow due to the limited abilities of their facilities.

“The field has to be dry. It’s dirt, not turf,” Sears said.

The next time you think it is too cold to walk to Cowan, remember your peers out there practicing out on the field — and make sure you layer up.

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