Summer Shape-up: How Student-Athletes are Preparing for the Upcoming Year

Dartmouth athletes played in local leagues, hit the gym and even travelled abroad to get ready for a competitive year.

by Brian Zheng | 7/30/21 2:05am

dartmouth-athletes-summer
by Annie Qiu / The Dartmouth

For most Dartmouth student-athletes, summer is a time to rest and recharge from the previous season while preparing for the next. This summer, instead of recovering from the knocks and bruises of the past year, athletes are focusing on getting ready for the upcoming fall, which will be the first time Ivy League competitors set foot onto fields and courts since early 2020. 

Athletic preparation for women’s volleyball player Karen Murphy ’24 included competing in the 16th Annual Global Challenge Tournament in Pula, Croatia and a weeks-long exhibition tour through Europe. Along with Dartmouth teammate Natalie Grover ’24, Murphy honed her skills by playing with women from across the United States against teams from countries like the Czech Republic, Israel and Hungary.

“[My Dartmouth coaches] were like ‘Hey, if you want to go play in Europe for two weeks, go for it,’” Murphy said. “We were like, ‘We can’t really turn this down.’”

While Murphy and Grover flew a continent away to prepare for their upcoming volleyball season, other athletes have been training a little closer to home. 

For baseball players, whose seasons are in the spring, the summer is a perfect time to “keep our arms hot,” according to men’s baseball pitcher Clark Gilmore ’24. As a result, many Big Green players, including Gilmore and outfield teammate Tyler Robinson ’24, are playing in collegiate summer baseball leagues across the nation. Gilmore, a Connecticut native, spent a few days at home after the spring term before heading down to Southampton, New York, to play with Robinson on the Southampton Breakers in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, a seven-team league based in the Hamptons. 

The Breakers have had a successful summer season, going 18-12 to top the league in the 30-game regular season. They are currently in the midst of a three-game series to decide the league championship against the Riverhead Tomcats. For Gilmore, the first taste of live competitive baseball in two years was exactly what he needed. 

“I’ve really gained another love for baseball this summer, getting to be back on the field after such a long drought,” Gilmore said.

For both Gilmore and Murphy, who is now back in Idaho and training individually for the season, summer training provides a different challenge than the constant rhythm of in-season preparation.

“It is very nice focusing specifically on the gym and baseball as opposed to the gym, baseball, a social life, schoolwork and all of that that comes with being at Dartmouth,” Gilmore said. “But we’re all living with host families, so you have to balance other real things in life.”

Arranging travel to games, preparing meals and time management around self-scheduled lifts are just a few of the things that differentiate playing summer baseball from training during the school year. Murphy echoed Gilmore’s sentiment, noting that when she is in-season, her daily routine is stretched to the maximum with scheduled lifts and classes.

“In the summer, you have a lot more free time, so it’s kind of up to you to go get that workout in,” Murphy said. “When you’re in season, you have no free time, which I kind of prefer, honestly.”

For incoming Dartmouth students, like Maeve Conneely ’25 — a new member of the women’s track and field team — the work begins even before stepping foot onto Dartmouth’s campus.

Conneely, who is working full-time at a construction company, is also diligently following the summer workout sent to her by jumps coach Tim Wunderlich. Given her hectic schedule, she wakes up at 5:00 a.m. every day to complete the workout.

“I’m a morning person, so I don’t really find it too difficult to wake up at 5:00 a.m.,” Conneely said. “When I’m on the roads at 5:00 a.m., there’s nobody else on them, so I find it kind of relaxing.”

Conneely, whose high school junior outdoor season was cancelled due to the pandemic, says that she is working hard because she feels like she missed out on a quintessential part of the high school track experience.

“I’m just really excited to get back to it because I feel like I never really got to finish my high school career,” Conneely said. “Even though I had my senior season, and I’m really lucky to have had it, it didn’t feel like a real season.”

The lack of indoor competition and a pandemic-shortened outdoor season during her senior year has Conneely excited to finally compete at the Division I level. 

Older Dartmouth athletes like Evan Hecimovich ’21 are yearning for one final chance to wear the Dartmouth green. Hecimovich, a football offensive lineman who was an integral member of the 2019 Ivy League-winning offense and a member of the 2019 All-Ivy Second Team, said that the desire for one last year pushed him to take an additional off term last winter term in order to return for another season with his teammates in the fall.

“We won the Ivy League championship the last time we were out there, and obviously, when you’re playing, you never know when your last play is going to be,” Hecimovich said. “But when I was walking off the field at Brown [during the last game of 2019], it didn’t even cross my mind that there was a possibility that that would be my last game.” 

To get back into playing shape, Hecimovich is doing individual field work and hitting the gym in his home state of Illinois, focusing on mastering his technique and hitting his goal weight before returning to campus for one last ride. Like the other athletes, he emphasized that he was excited about finally returning to the live-action version of his sport. But for Hecimovich, Murphy, Gilmore and Conneely, all their hard work during this summer offseason is leading to the same ultimate goal. 

“The goal is to win another Ivy League Championship,” Hecimovich said. “That’s what I would be most excited about, the opportunity to go out there and defend our title.”

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