This past week the Drake Athletic Department voted to allow athletics teams to practice for a maximum of twenty hours, a twelve hour increase from the previous week. Men’s and women’s basketball, tennis, soccer, golf, track and field, cross country, softball, rowing and football have seen an increase in practice hours this week as a result of the decision. Practices now consist of multiple hours, both on and off their respective courts and fields, and often involve multiple trips to the weight room. Practice can start as early as 6:00 a.m. and go until late into the evenings. Some teams also have multiple practices in one day.
Women’s tennis has a very packed schedule. There are two days each week where the team practices three times. The first practice starts at 7:00 a.m. and is followed by weights training at 10:30 a.m. The players then have one more practice in the afternoon to conclude their training day.
Head Coach Mai-Ly Tran was asked how she felt about the increase of practice hours and she said she “fully supports it.”
Track and field start some days of the week with a 6:00 a.m. lift in the weight room with Coach Walker. Cloud Masibhera, a member of the track and field team, said that the increased hours has not made practicing any harder.
“To be honest, the increase in practice hours presents the same challenges as our eight-hour weeks,” Masibhera said. “The precautions stay the same, all the staff wear masks. We have to wear our masks in the weight room, so despite the change in hours, we still face all of the COVID-19 precautions that have been challenging.”
In Masibhera’s opinion, the biggest challenge has been finding a balance between academics and athletics.
“It is hard to adjust with online classes as an athlete with more practice hours because as soon as one class ends, then I have to go to practice,” Masibhera said. “The atmosphere is different now with the team because we are all so busy. Interacting with the team is harder now.”
First-year Bria Rhodes, also a member of the track and field team, said the challenges of increased practices are twofold.
“I feel like it’s a difficult transition not only on our bodies but also on our minds,” Rhodes said. “But all in all, it will only make us stronger athletes and build more character.”
Most student-athletes seem to be in favor of twenty hours weeks. The increase in practice time could potentially allow the athletes to have stronger results with upcoming competitions.
Aayushi Sarkar, a first-year golfer, enjoys having the extra time to work on different skills.
“More practice time will allow the team to focus more on different things,” Sarkar said. “But ultimately, as much as I like the increased hours it does not make much sense since we are not competing this fall.”
Like tennis and track, women’s golf also has daily 7:00 a.m. practices, and some afternoon practices.
There is a mix of emotions between the student-athletes and different sports on how they feel about the increase in hours that happened this past week. Though, most student-athletes are just happy to still be practicing with their team.