Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 12, 2016

Athletes caught in flunk funk

It’s a day at Knox College that both students and faculty alike look forward to once Spring Term rolls around: Flunk Day. It’s the day that generally begins in the early hours of the morning and ends hours after the sun goes down. The schedule is full of activities that can leave students sore, hungover and exhausted the day after, but for athletes, Flunk Day can mean setbacks in training and even performance during games or meets.

Track and Field, the only athletic team still currently in season, had to anticipate a Flunk Day setback during their week-eight training for the Midwest Conference Outdoor Championship this upcoming Friday and Saturday.

“I think it’s just a concern about the surprise of when it is,” sophomore sprinter Caroline Hickey said. “I like to prepare and to know when it is so that not everything gets disrupted. It’s just another thing to worry about.”

Similar to the academic guessing game where students try to anticipate what work they can get away without doing and what work they need to have done and ready by post-Flunk, athletic teams must keep in mind the impact of Flunk Day on their training and preparation.

When planning, the administration keeps the athletic calendar in mind when choosing a day. This does not mean that a game or two has not been preceded by Flunk Day. During the 2015 season, Baseball’s game versus Robert Morris of Peoria followed the April 29 Flunk, and it was a game they lost 7-11. Despite these challenges, other sports like Track and Field feel the administration caters more to certain sports and less to others.

“I think they do their best to take into account athletics, but I think they took the Baseball schedule into account way more than they did the conference finals for Track,” senior Saundra Gavazzi said, adding, “I think just a singular Baseball game is less important than an entire conference Track meet.”

With Flunk Day not surfacing until week eight, Track runners like Gavazzi feel the day has put the team at a disadvantage in their Championship prep, recalling how frustrated Head Track and Field Coach Randy Overby was after realizing they would not be given a full week of training prior to the Championships, as had been the case in years prior.

In anticipation, Overby held a long practice on Monday to solidify technicalities like the passing of the baton in each relay group earlier in the week; the team practiced from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Certain runners, like Gavazzi, feel less prepared without a full week’s training leading into the weekend. Others, like Hickey, look at Flunk Day as if it were any other sick day within her training schedule.

“Last year I don’t think it was ever a thing that we were at a meet and someone was like ‘Oh, I did bad because of Flunk Day,’” Hickey said. “I think when it comes to the Championships we’re in the moment, and it’s our training that has brought us there. It’s like having a sick day: If you miss a day because of x,y and z, you’re not going to focus on that in the moment [of competition].”

Both Hickey and Gavazzi agree that Flunk Day hurts more than it helps when it comes to in-season athletes, pointing to the free meals provided by the school during the day.

“I didn’t eat very good food yesterday; there weren’t very many healthy options,” Gavazzi said. “A lot of the proteins that are essential for athletes were really greasy and not prepared for an athlete, rather just for the general public, and they only had chips to serve as a carb.”

With just two days of practice post Flunk Day before Championships, Track and Field is feeling the repercussions of a late Flunk. The team hopes to bounce back and compete with their best times at the Championships hosted this Friday and Saturday in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Sam Watkins

Tags:  Caroline Hickey flunk day randy overby saundra gavazzi track and field

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