By Jessica Landman
With the close of fall sports and the approaching end to the fall semester, student-athletes are looking to the spring for their official season.
Competing in the spring for SUNY Plattsburgh are men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s baseball and women’s softball.
Each team has been putting time in on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom to prepare for their upcoming season in just a few months.
The men’s and women’s track and field teams will be working through the winter with their indoor season heading into the spring for outdoor track and field. The transition from running inside to moving outdoors changes a lot in the way these athletes compete.
Levi Sochia, a sprinter on the men’s track and field team, said, “I just try to prepare my lungs for inside air compared to outside air and then going from shorter distances to long distance and lifting more weights.”
For NCAA Division III sports, there are certain guidelines that each team must follow for their off season. The softball team, for example, is allowed 15 official practices and one play date.
Kristina Maggicomo, a pitcher on the softball team, said they have been preparing for their season in those practices by doing a lot of scrimmaging and repeating certain plays to make them better.
The playdate allows the team to play against another school in the fall season. This fall, the softball team played St. Micheals, which is a Division II school.
Another way the athletes have been preparing are frequent visits to the university’s weight room to complete lift circuits specifically designed for each team and what would prepare the team best for their season.
Sophomore baseball pitcher Christian Diaz said, “We have lifting groups so I go to the gym with them every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but I still go on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.”
After last year’s season, the baseball team is working to make it to the playoff tournament again. In their 2022 spring season, baseball made it to the SUNYAC tournament for the first time in 10 years. The team goal is to be able to make it back to the tournament for a second year in a row.
The team has also welcomed a new assistant coach, Sean Guida, to their staff. He just finished playing three years of professional baseball for a variety of teams including Gary SouthShore RailCats, the EastSide Diamond Hoppers, the Somerset Patriots, the Rockland Boulders and the New Hampshire Wild.
There has also been a change in head coaching for the men’s lacrosse team. As of August, Darry Thornton was named the new coach for the team. Thornton has gained a great deal of experience as he has been a head coach for 10 years.
With a new coach comes a new set of challenges, however, especially for the mental health of the athletes.
Thorton understands the mental struggle of being a student athlete as he played lacrosse at SUNY Oneonta when he attended college.
Thornton said that the focus of the student should be “family, school and then lacrosse.” He also said that his athletes focus on their mental health by keeping consistent open communication with Thornon as well as participating in stress relieving activities such as coloring.
It is not just a change in coaching staff that tests the mental strength of these athletes. All the responsibilities from attending classes and keeping grades up as well as making it to most practices and putting all their focus into performing to the best of their abilities on the field.
Rachel Lamar, an athlete on the women’s lacrosse team, knows the struggle it is to balance school and sports and the toll it can have on an athlete’s mental health.
“I’ve been seeing a guy from the nutrition center that is more focused on mental toughness and wellness,” Lamar said. “He’s been talking to me a lot about practicing an optimistic mindset, which I think is very important going into your season, just making sure you’re mentally prepared for it as well as physically.”