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The Dartmouth
February 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Athletes face limited D-Plan options

Charlie Stoebe '08 has no one to hang out with.

Stoebe, who runs on Dartmouth's track team, is currently at home in Westport, Conn., while the vast majority of his friends are on campus taking classes.

"I'm in season during both Winter and Spring terms, so right away those two are out," he said of choosing a leave term.

"I guess it's possible to petition and take off sophomore summer, but that's a huge part of the Dartmouth experience, and it's supposed to be a great time, so who would want to skip that?"

Stoebe is not alone in his predicament; many athletes find themselves choosing their Dartmouth Plans around their teams. While some sports, such as track, require specific terms to be spent on and off campus, others only encourage their athletes to choose D-Plans with the team in mind.

Jamie Bergeson-Bradshaw '08 is on the women's crew team, which only requires members to spend Spring term on campus but encourages them to spend off terms training with the team. Bergeson-Bradshaw recognized the influence the sport has on her D-Plan decisions.

"It's hard because it really limits what you can do," she said. "I really want to do a foreign study program that is only offered in the spring but can't do it because of crew."

Steve Perry, head coach of the men's lightweight crew team, said the D-Plan helps in recruiting rowers over other schools, specifically others in the Ivy League.

While Perry encourages rowers to stay on campus in the fall for preseason racing, he also strongly supports rowing in other boathouses and experiencing alternative coaching techniques. Of the three lightweight rowers who are away this term, one is rowing in Italy, another in Ukraine and the third has a rowing machine with him as he travels across the country.

"We encourage them to find boat clubs overseas, but nothing is ever held against those athletes when they take their D-Plan trips," Perry said. "If they don't take advantage of that term or summer off and come back in shape and ready to rock, it's not my responsibility."

According to Perry, Dartmouth crews have historically gone the fastest when their rowers have stayed on campus and trained during their off terms.

Despite her frustration with scheduling a foreign study program, Bergeson-Bradshaw recognized the troubles coaches face while attempting to keep their teams together.

"If you want to be competitive as a sports team, it's not unreasonable for a coach to ask that his or her athletes try to schedule their D-Plan in this way," she said. "Because after all, every other team in the league doesn't have to deal with various team members being away from campus at during peak training times."

Stoebe has been able to maintain his running shape despite spending his off term at home and pursuing an internship, but he said he is eager to return for track season in the winter, when he will also reunite with friends he will not have seen in nine months.