Brian De Los Santos
Jefferson P. Nolan
Men’s basketball junior forward Chris Eversley’s break consisted of basketball, basketball and more basketball.
And the thing is, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else,” Eversley said. “I think that if you’re honestly sincere about playing this game, then you shouldn’t want anything else during winter break.”
Break allows Eversley and other fellow student-athletes to focus on one thing they’re extremely passionate about: sports. While other students are enjoying themselves on vacation, athletes are caught in the same blur of practices and games week after week. But while that view may seem taxing in a few ways, it reaps benefits in more ways than one.
Above all else, while all students have deserted the city, having athletes isolated with no one else but their teammates helps for success on the court or the field, Eversley said.
“I think it kind of contributes to the fact of on-court communication because you spend so much time off the court together,” Eversley said. “I’ve been with them so much that I know what’s going on. We can read each other like a book.”
That’s partly because break allows athletes to focus on just sports. They don’t have to worry about class or making up assignments; they can simply focus on practice and getting better.
“It’s definitely my favorite part of the year,” Eversley said.
That, however, doesn’t mean it’s not hard. Time spent training in San Luis Obispo means time away from families. For some athletes that aren’t from the area, that means they only get to see family members for a few weeks of the year.
Eversley is one of those athletes. The Chicago, Ill. native said he gets to see his family twice a year. And that fact combined with other factors does make a few aspects of break challenging, despite the positives.
“It’s emotionally taxing because you don’t get to see your family and it’s mentally taxing because there’s no one really around here to talk to except yourself,” Eversley said. “So I think out of the entire 12 months of year, I might see my family three weeks. Fifty-two weeks in a year, 49 weeks I’m here.”
Coaches do their best to help athletes in that nature.
Women’s basketball head coach Faith Mimnaugh knows the break can be used as a bonding opportunity for the team.
“I think it helps with chemistry and getting to know each other better,” Mimnaugh said. “Of course, when we’re on the road together, there are always opportunities to do even more bonding, so I do see it as a good thing. I think our program in general does a super job with that. When they come in, they’re definitely family. We have opportunities for them to interact with other players on the team.”
In a way, the break makes athletes grow off the court as well. Eversley said the isolation of athletes makes them independent and helps them mature, especially for the young guys.
“It’s a ghost town on campus, there is absolutely no one here,” Eversley said. “It was especially hard my first year because I was a redshirt, and I had to stay in the dorms. My roommate was always gone, since he was playing, so I was on my bike everyday going to Firestone to get something to eat or going downtown.”
“I grew more independent because I was on my own a lot.”
Athletes who live in the area do their best to accommodate athletes who can’t see their family members during the break.
“I actually had Chris (Eversley) over for Thanksgiving,” said men’s basketball guard Dylan Royer, who lives in Los Osos. “All the guys know that they’re welcome. My parents love the guys and we’re family. That’s my second family.”
That being said, isolation means more time for basketball. And for Eversley and other student-athletes, it allows them to mature on the court as well as off of it.
“It kind of just helps you grow up not only as an individual, but since you spend more time with your teammates, then you guys become a better team as a result of it,” Eversley said.