Since I started working with the women's soccer team at Marquette four seasons ago I've been curious to know what goes on during its annual preseason training camp at Camp Whitcomb in Hartland, Wis. So curious that finally I decided it was as good of a time as any to spend nearly 24 hours with what many (including myself) refer to as "The Family."
Markus (Roeders) says that is along with polishing skills, working on fitness and strategy for the upcoming season, one of the greatest things about going to Camp Whitcomb is the amount of bonding the team is able to do. These ladies truly take the word family to a whole new level.
The players agree. It is unique, and they wouldn't have it any other way. Although I have not done much research to see if there are any other teams that leave campus for an extended period of time for preseason training, I'm sure that the Golden Eagles are one few teams in the nation that make this an annual tradition.
I arrived at Camp Whitcomb, or as Markus calls it an "all-inclusive resort" complete with four meals a day, bathrooms and bunks, around 6 p.m. where I found the team on the fields warming up for its annual nightly scrimmage. I couldn't participate on the field, but I did douse myself in bug spray and got my touch back while passing the ball with team manager Aleks.
The fun thing about these scrimmages are that each night is a different theme. Tonight's was all black and I was given the heads up by Ashley Bares as to what to wear. Other theme nights include, denim night, celebrity look alike night, spandex morning, jersey night and dress as your favorite Disney character. The senior class comes up with each night's theme.
After scrimmaging for nearly 90 minutes on a warm August night, the players stretch, shower, get treatment and dine together in the lodge's dining room. Stories are told and lots of laughs are shared. Lauren Thut shared with her table her way of making her bed (a bottom bunk in Acorn 3) the most comfortable it could be with a mattress pad, a blanket under a fitted sheet coupled with two pillows so she is comfortable reading before she goes to sleep. About 10 ladies share each of the Acorns' in the lodge for the week.
It's true that this team has found its balance. Between its theme nights for the scrimmages to its pre-practice dance party, the women's soccer team keeps it light, but it also knows when it is time to get down to business. It is evident in each training session and game.
Now it is time for me to climb into my top bunk, get a good night's sleep and wait for the 6:45 a.m. wake-up call to run a timed 1.5 mile run around 7 a.m. I've been warned that it better be an all out sprint. I consider myself fit, but I am anxious to see what time I get. I may be in for a rude awakening. I'm already looking forward to my ice bath upon completion.
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