by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
An avid rugbyrugby.com reader wrote in recently and asked what a typical day in the life is for a Cal Rugby student athlete. There where several queries within the original question, but I thought I would make an attempt to provide a glimpse of what any given in-season Tuesday is like for a varsity rugby player on the campus of the University of California.
Start the Day
Classes begin at 8:00 am but college students are not known for their desire to wake up before it is absolutely necessary, but for athletes, it is critical to get fuel in your system, so breakfast is a must.
Academics are challenging at Cal and only focused, organized and motivated students excel. Our athletes take anywhere from two to four classes throughout the day. It is common practice to pack some snacks in their backpacks to keep their energy levels up and hunger pangs down as they go through their classes. In between classes there is time to catch up on some required reading, just before, sometimes during, and after lunch.
Transition to Athletics
Reporting to Memorial Stadium marks the transition from student to athlete. Each team training session, whether it is strength training or rugby training, has team issued kit that is required. Dressing like a team is an important part of how the athletes function as a team. The transition from academics to athletics is furthered in the training quarters. Players stop in to get taped or receive treatment for any existing injuries.
Injured players spend a substantial amount of time in the training quarters working to pass as fit to play. Appointments consume time in the training quarters for things like x-rays, follow-ups with team doctors, physical therapists and trainers. Once the scheduled appointments are completed, it is off to the weightroom.
Tuesdays are primarily the day of the training week when we perform Olympic lifts, so you have got to be focused and ready to go from the first rep. There is a lot going on in the varsity weightroom, with backs and forwards completing differing exercises, set and repetitions depending on a number of factors including which week of the season we are in, who the opposition is on the upcoming weekend, and how we are performing on the field. Once done in the weight room, it is on to Witter Rugby Field.
It is now 4:00 pm and the entire team is assembled on the field and ready to get stuck into the planned activities. Training sessions are 90 minutes in duration, but you had better not blink because the work rate and velocity at which everything is performed makes the time fly by.
Once training is over, it is important to stretch and treat any bumps or bruises and it is common to see knees and shoulder wrapped with ice bags and shrink-wrap, often times as a precautionary measure. Cleanliness is critical to the health of all sports teams. Players shower off, using plenty of soap and hot water and then drop off their soiled team gear in the equipment room to be laundered and ready for tomorrow.
Just as it is important for athletes to get fuel in their systems first thing in the morning, it is equally important for them to refuel post training. Dinnertime signals the transition from being in athlete mode to re-entering student mode. After dinner the players head back out onto campus to study. For freshman this means mandatory study hours in the athletic study center and for others it is the library or favorite café. Upperclassmen who find they struggling with their academics are mandated to go back into the athletic study center as well. It is a powerful resource that the student athletes have at their disposal and they use it to balance the demands of their course load and athletic career.
Players begin to migrate back home about 10:00 pm. It is common for many to unwind in front of the playstation before calling it a night. It is only Tuesday, a day in the life.
Tom Billups began his rugby career in 1984 and has spent time as a player in New Zealand, the U.S. and England for domestic teams as well as representing the U.S.A. at international tournaments with the Eagles. After hanging up his boots, Billups got into coaching leading the Eagles and now with University of California – Berkeley. Read the entire bio of Tom Billups as well as Billups first column My Rugby Path and then check out what Billups is saying about the game of rugby in The Billups Column on Rugby Rugby.
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