Caitlin Dorsch ~ Co-Editor in Chief
The dreaded off-season. In my mind, it is a tougher season than the actual regular season. Therefore, it really is not even an “off”-season, per say.
It is that time of the year where you and your teammates are just working out as hard as possible to fine-tune your craft to prepare for a season that is literally months away. For my three off-seasons, I honestly felt so much pressure to get better as a result of the amount of time that we had until the “real” season started again. It always baffled me because we would train for 9 straight months to play competitively for just 3. The “real” season always happened so quickly comparative to the “off-season.”
For the women’s soccer team, our “off-season” is known as our “spring season,” because our main season occurs during the fall semester. Our “off-season” is both physically and mentally harder than our actual season, in my opinion.
For the women’s soccer team, building “grit,” or, as I would define it, the strength to persevere further than one ever thought their body could persevere, is the most important thing that occurs during the off-season. Yet, there is one stipulation to this “grit” that should not be overlooked: the necessity to build this “grit” alongside one’s teammates.
Coach Todd Olsen and the other members of the coaching staff always reinforced the importance of this team aspect of “grit” for the benefit of the team. During the workouts that the players on the team choose to do throughout the spring season, having a strong, unified mentality to “go that extra inch” is of greatest importance.
The team bonding in the lifting sessions, led by Coach Ed Smith and his strength and conditioning team, and the tough morning workouts that really aid in empowering each team member in succeeding to her fullest potential, both on and off the field. From my first morning workout with the team during the spring semester of my first-year, I had no idea how much my confidence would grow from choosing to do a boot-camp and lift with my teammates a few times during the week.
Yes, I am not going to lie to you: my body was super tired by the end of the week after doing the optional sessions. I went to all of these sessions, though, so that I could find a way to develop my own skill and mentality for the betterment of the team. And that right there is the key of the entire spring season – as a collegiate student-athlete, one has to realize how important it is for each player on the team to “buy in” and work hard for the benefit of a collective effort, not oneself.
Honestly, it took me close to three years on the team to finally realize the importance of “buying in.” But, once I was finally able to realize the importance of joining a collective effort without any other thought, that was the moment where I began to actually have fun while working harder than I ever thought I could. And that was the moment where I began to feel empowered as a woman and as a collegiate student-athlete in general.