By Kenneth Glidden, Head Culture Writer
Photos collected by Kenneth Glidden
Two weeks ago today was the start of arguably the best part of the spring semester: Spring Break. The perfect time to destress, forget about school for a week and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Spring break is that breath of fresh air after eight weeks of drowning in schoolwork, sports, extracurriculars and everything else that comes with being a college student. The chance to unwind by the beach, at your house or for my fellow international students, at a good friend’s house is all one needs to recharge their constantly draining school battery.
I spent this past week asking some Bearcats where they went for spring break and what they did. A few answers (including my own) were what you might think someone would say for their spring break recap, but some carry their own unique qualities, quandaries and quarrels.
For my spring break, I was lucky enough to score an AirBNB just outside of Tampa for myself and 13 of my swimming and diving teammates. It was a fantastic week full of a lot of sunshine, but I must say, traveling with a group that size is NOT easy. Between the times spent arguing over what the plan is and trying to find the few that like to stray from the group, there were great memories and a lot of laughs.
We spent multiple days on the beach just soaking up the sun and having fun. Of course, the beaches were filled with similar groups that also enjoyed tossing the pigskin, sunbathing and burying their friends in sand. Though there were beautiful waters at every beach we visited, the swims were usually short and sweet (something unexpected from the swim and dive crew) because the ocean was colder than a fiddler in a freezer! One of my favorite memories from this trip wasn’t the dazzling beach days or the sunshiny weather but instead, the night of the trip that most would say went terribly wrong.
It was the second night of the trip and after a great day at the beach, it was time to hit the town. All the girls put on fun outfits, the guys were looking sharp and the Ubers pulled up. They took us to the hottest disco in the St. Pete area where the lines were much longer than expected. We didn’t let that spoil the fun though and started waiting. We got about halfway through the line when I felt the last thing you want to feel standing in a long line outside: a drop of rain.
In the blink of an eye, that drop turned to thousands and it was pouring. A few of our crew managed to bolt to the front of the line and make it in whereas the rest of us were stuck under a small canopy along with easily thirty or more people treating the rain like vampires treat the sun. Some might think “There goes the night, oh well.” and some did. My group, however, wasn’t gonna let a lil’ monsoon stop us.
While waiting for the rain to die down (it didn’t), we ordered another Uber to get us out of the storm. When it arrived, the shoes came off and we splashed our way through the lakes and rivers now present on the sides of the streets into the car. He took us to a strip nearby with plenty of places to hang out and just like that, the epic night turned disaster turned back. The rest of the trip had plenty of last-minute changes, but we tried our best to have fun no matter what the circumstances.
My crew wasn’t the only Bearcats that took to Florida last week either. After speaking with Tony and Matthew, seniors on the water polo team, I found out they visited a different part of Florida, the ever-popular PCB (Panama City Beach) – found in northern Florida, it’s easily one of the most popular spring break destinations. They both mentioned they had a decent-sized crew of seven.
They both shared that their favorite part of their spring break adventure was the beach days. Tony stated, “By far my favorite part was going to the beach every single day for around seven to eight hours and having fun in the water and finally getting a tan after training indoors all year.”
I asked if anything crazy, fun, interesting or catastrophic happened during their spring break, to which Matt replied, “We ended up going to a foam party with some Ohio state kids and that was pretty cool.” That is a perfect example of the beauty of spring break. Most of us are at our spring break destination, as Drake put it so perfectly, “for a good time, not a long time,” which makes most of us more welcoming and open to adventure.
As far as catastrophes go, their answers aligned nearly perfectly with my Floridian spring break experience. Matt mentioned, “[Some of] my teammates got a bit emotional halfway through the trip so me and my roommate started to vibe on our own.” Tony stated, “Some of my teammates wandered off, coming back late at night which was always scary, but everything worked out fine.” These kinds of things are hard to bear witness to, but often are unavoidable on trips like these. When a large group of college students decides to live together for a week and push their bodies to exhaustion in search of a good time, things are bound to go wrong.
Not every spring breaker got the luxury of the beach, however. I had a chat with senior lacrosse player Clara who told me her spring break was more of a spring battle. She said, “This spring break I traveled all over Colorado with my lacrosse team (23 girls). We went to Durango, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Denver and Pueblo. We played 4 games while we were there (we went 2-2)!”
Though I’m sure these girls would have much rather been maxing and relaxing on their spring break, this trip sounds like it was a blast. I asked Clara what her favorite parts of spring break were to which she replied, “My favorite thing overall about spring break was getting to bond with my teammates and experience new things together.” She continued, “I got closer with girls that I didn’t talk to as much and I think we formed a new energy as a team.” That is usually the best part of training trips like this one. The ability to come together as a team and form a bond that turns you into an unstoppable force. This bond comes from not only fighting as a team for victory on the field but finding the moments off the field that you’ll cherish as a team.
Clara mentioned, “My favorite thing that we did together was hike around the Red Rock Amphitheater. I have never been out west, so seeing mountains like that was pretty amazing!” Clara then shared with me her second favorite part of the trip, which was the good eats: “Our coach treated us to some really good meals. My favorite meal was from a ‘food collective’ in Denver. It was 6 restaurants in one place and I got probably the best meal I’ve ever had.” In a restaurant that’s six different restaurants, I don’t find that hard to believe at all.
I asked Clara about what made her trip interesting and her answer made my one, single day of travel for spring break seem like child’s play saying, “We stayed at a different hotel every night and drove about three or four hours a day! It was a lot of moving around and it felt like absolute craziness sometimes, but we made it a lot of fun.” Traveling through five cities is no simple task, and traveling with an entire team, while having to play games makes it no easier. Our lacrosse girls are very tough though and if anything, this spring break proved that they are not a force to be reckoned with.
I finished our interview by asking if there were any catastrophes on their trip and any advice for those who shall spring break in the future. Her response was, “On the first day of travel, we left from Lebanon to the St. Louis airport at 3 a.m., about 20 minutes into the drive I asked the team if anyone grabbed the sticks bags, the bags we put all our sticks/equipment in, only to find out that no one knew there was more than one stick bag…that got us into a little bit of trouble with our coach. We ended up paying someone to drive the forgotten bag to the airport, thankfully it got there in time but I don’t think I ever felt more stressed than that moment.”
Leaving all your equipment at home on your way to a training trip is almost like leaving your parachute on the plane while going skydiving. This alludes perfectly to the advice Clara gave when I asked for spring break tips. She said, “If you have a feeling that you may be forgetting something, you probably are. I learned that the hard way.”
While some Bearcats soaked up the sun en masse, others were going hard in the paint across a new state. Some Bearcats, though, enjoyed the sunshine and good times of spring break without the large crew. I talked to sophomore Filipe and super senior Kenny about their spring break trips and they both kept it low-key, traveling with just one of their homies. Filipe said, “I went to San Diego with my long-time friend and now teammate Arthur. We’ve known each other since we were 14.” Kenny mentioned, “I went to Fort Myers Florida for Spring Break. We spent a couple days on the beach and a couple days downtown. I traveled with my girlfriend and we saw her family.”
I asked them what their favorite part of spring break was and they gave fairly similar answers, talking about how they enjoyed the break from everything school-related and not having to stress over school or sport. I then asked them to share stories from their spring break to which Kenny responded, “There was a St. Patrick’s Day party downtown and they had live music and the streets shut down which was pretty cool.” St. Patty’s being in the middle of spring break was something completely overlooked in the planning process of my trip, but when we found out, we too made the most of it and enjoyed the festivities in our city.
Filipe’s story wasn’t so peachy. His spring break took a major turn the day before they flew. “We were supposed to stay at Arthur’s friend’s apartment, but a day before we went he told us we couldn’t stay so we had to book a hotel before our flight.” I can’t even imagine how stressful that situation was, but I’m sure it opened opportunities for good times. When asked if there were any spring break catastrophes, both mentioned some bad sunburns. Filipe even said “Falling asleep on the beach after staying the whole year in the midwest. Extremely sunburnt.” Of course, to rebuttal these catastrophes, their advice for future spring breakers is: don’t forget the sunscreen!
To cap off these spring break stories, I wanted to highlight a good friend of mine who didn’t quite get the spring break everyone else did. I had a chat with Walton Hall Resident Director Mr. Craig, a former swimmer and current friend, about his spring break to which he said, “Well, I started the week off [and] for work, went to Kentucky. Maybe a little known fact, we had a satellite campus in Radcliffe, Kentucky.” I spoke to how I somewhat knew about this campus and asked him how it looked, to which he replied “It is now nonexistent, we just closed it down and are now trying to sell the property.”
Because of this, Craig spent his first couple of days of spring break traveling to and from Kentucky to move truckloads of stuff. After this, he got some time to relax as his family came to meet him back on campus. “I was driving from Kentucky, and they were driving from Oklahoma at the same time, and we met back here,” said Craig. This led me to ask if, after his Kentucky journey, he stayed in the area for all of spring break to which he replied, “I still had to work, I don’t get work off for spring break AND I had homework assignments.”
He continued, “I took time off work in the middle of the week to play tennis with my family and go out to eat and stuff.” I asked him what his favorite part of spring break was. Of course, it was hanging out with his family over having to work. He also mentioned how good the weather was here in the Leb, saying, “The weather was freaking amazing, we actually got to do stuff outside and relax, it was fun.” Craig is quite the well-put-together man, and when I asked him about anything interesting, crazy, etc. that may have happened over spring break he told me about some great news he received.
For context, Craig is getting his counseling degree here at McKendree, in the hardest state to get licensed and will be leaving the university in May of 2024 with his license, counseling experience and zero debt thanks to the hard work he has put in working at the university on top of everything. Craig told me, “The craziest thing to me was when my parents were over they were talking about how my dad is going to retire around the same point in time I leave McKendree. So we had a lot of conversations about what is going on in the future and they [his parents] were like, ‘Alright listen, we’ll help you run a private practice like mom, secretary and dad, groundskeeper, lets go!’” This may not seem like a crazy spring break story, but I think it goes to show the far reaches of spring breaks power to bring happiness. Though Craig said, “It was literally just another week for me,” he was still able to feel that spring break magic with some amazing news.
Whether you just went home and chilled, went on a wild adventure with friends, worked or played your sport all week, everyone got to enjoy their week off of school and had time to recenter and refocus for the final stretch of the school year. To all of my students and teachers out there, we are officially over the spring semester hill! From here the weeks begin to count down, the seniors prepare for graduation and all students and teachers become giddy with the excitement that it’s almost summertime, one of few breaks better than spring break. The time where our inner-spring-breaker can be fully unleashed without the worry of school the next week. The time of spring break weather 24/7 for months. The time spent with our families before the new school year turns and we reunite with our second family: our Bearcat family.