Athletics in the Cold
October 17, 2019
Jason Hewitt ’20
If you want to play an outdoor sport and can’t handle the cold on a consistent basis, then I wouldn’t recommend playing at Oberlin College.
As a football player from the South, I can provide you with one word to describe the cold: disrespectful. The weather can be absolutely disrespectful at times, especially when winter comes around. Ohio can get ridiculously cold from time to time, so you have to mentally prepare yourself for the weather out here. It can get rough, so you have to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before you compete outside here.
Be ready for the weather to start feeling extra brisk by the end of October.
When you first arrive in August, everything may seem warmer than what most would consider comfortable, but I can assure you that you should want to embrace all of that heat while you can. You may sweat a lot more than usual during practice, but it is what it is, right? Ohio usually experiences mild summers with some occasionally hot days, but it’s nothing as extreme as the cold gets up here.
Once fall comes around, there’s a significant change. Everything starts feeling a million times nicer outside, and practicing is a breeze (literally). Expect to experience some lovely sixty-five to seventy degree days during the fall as well! Those days are always great, especially Fridays. Everyone just seems happier with their lives on those days. When it’s nice outside, the day instantly feels better.
Here’s a word of advice: CHERISH the nice weather days, because once late October comes around, things start feeling a little too chilly for comfort.
You might also start to notice that there are more cold, rainy days. For me, this makes practice a lot more difficult, because everything is wet and uncomfortable outside. The football is drenched, which potentially makes the game sloppier. We practice on the turf of Knowlton Stadium, so at least we aren’t muddy after a rain shower. However, the turf can get really slippery at times. That increases the risk for injury on the field (*Knocks on wood*).
Another important thing to note is that contact hurts the body more when it’s colder outside, so wearing protective gear is key. This is entirely based on preference, but it would be wise to wear long sleeves outside. Some people like to wear short sleeves during cold practices, but that’s really a mental thing. They think it makes them “soft” to wear warmer clothing... More power to them. I’m not one of those people at all. I will happily put my long-sleeved shirt under my shoulder pads in order to have a comfortable experience on the field.
The cold weather isn’t temporary either. Once things get cooler in late October, the cold doesn’t go away until the spring.
This place turns very cold and gray very quickly, and it becomes a pattern after a while. You may go outside to practice and notice that there’s almost always cloud cover. The only time when you experience warmth is when you walk back into the locker room. There is nothing that you can do about it either. Sure, you can put some layers on, but you might end up being too hot because of all the running you’re doing. Our coaches allow us to wear hoodies under our pads, so I like to do that a lot whenever it starts freezing outside. Otherwise, I just put a long sleeve shirt on and go perform on the field like I always do. I also make sure that I wear gloves. As an offensive lineman in football, I have to strike with my hands a lot. Because of this, my hands usually endure some pain in practice and in games. When it’s cold outside, that pain is significantly amplified. I know that the same can apply to many other contact sports outside. Gloves can prevent some of the extra stress that your hands endure, and they obviously keep your hands nice and warm. I would take as much advantage of them as I can.
When it gets colder, people start getting sicker. Protecting yourself as an athlete is essential. Wash your hands frequently!
When you’re playing your sport, it is highly likely that you will come into contact with a bunch of people. This exposes athletes to more illnesses already. Then the temperature drop plays a huge role in people getting sick. It happens every single year. Once the weather starts feeling colder and colder, more and more people start getting sick. The sports teams here are very close knit, so athletes are in constant contact with each other. I make sure that I wash my hands every chance I get. Of course, I don’t overdo it or anything, but I make sure that I wash my hands before and after practice and games. There’s also hand sanitizer machines all over campus, so I usually use one of those whenever I pass one. Taking care of your body is easily the most important priority, regardless of what sport you play.
Hygiene is also equally important when it comes to dealing with the cold. I know this isn’t really an issue for most folks, but it should still be addressed. PLEASE... SHOWER!
I understand that the cold can feel overwhelming and you may be in a rush after practice, but please make sure that you clean yourself. I have experienced being around people who believe that they don’t need to shower after practice because they didn’t sweat a lot. Don’t be those people. As I stated previously, athletes are always in physical contact with each other. It’s even worse for contact sports for obvious reasons. Do yourself a favor and get those germs as far away from your system as possible. Please shower... frequently. Being musty is never a good thing. Besides, who doesn’t like a nice, warm shower after being out in the cold?
Being an athlete who lives in a cold environment can be a challenge, but that’s what every athlete signed up for when they committed to Oberlin.
Yes, the cold gets overwhelming to me sometimes. There are times when I’m in the cold and I’m wondering what I’m even doing in Oberlin in the first place. It will get that bad sometimes. I haven’t even mentioned the snow that consistently falls down, and that’s an entirely new battle to deal with as an Oberlin athlete. However, if you manage to stay healthy and comfortable despite the ongoing freezing conditions outside, you may feel a sense of pride from overcoming the weather. It may not be easy to deal with, but it’s the life that every single Oberlin athlete chose!
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