When members of the softball team were emailed their preseason schedule during winter break, they found there were more than just practice times marked on their calendar. Announced on the schedule was something the team had never seen on its calendar before: the word “retreat.” They received no further detail regarding it. Where they would be going and what they would be doing was left a mystery, and all the coaches told them was what they would have to pack.
It was not until Jan. 31 that the players finally found out where they would be going, that is, after they met up at the Athletics and Events Center and followed the coaches down Taughannock Boulevard to eventually end up in Trumansburg, New York, just 20 minutes away from Ithaca College.
The Bombers found themselves at a place — surrounded by nature, acres of beautiful landscaping and artistically decorated cabins — that they hadn’t ever seen or heard of before. From Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, the Bombers stayed at the NewPark Boutique Hotel and Event Center, a site where they would bond and connect before the season officially started.
Head coach Deb Pallozzi said the coaching staff wanted to take advantage of a free weekend when none of the indoor practice facilities were available, and they thought a retreat would be a valuable experience for the squad. Over the course of two days, the team was able to take part in bonding activities, such as a balloon race, an egg drop activity and team “Jeopardy!” However, the most important part of the retreat was being able to go over core values and philosophies.
“We have classroom sessions, so our first classroom session was at the retreat, so we got our core values set down, started talking about what we want to be, who we want to be and how we want to do it,” Pallozzi said.
The team typically does classroom sessions every Friday in either the A&E Center or Hill Center. Senior outfielder and captain Nina Lindberg said the sessions are essential to the team’s mental preparation for games.
“We call them mental sessions too, because I think in the game of softball especially, mental toughness is more important than how you physically prepare, and so we take time to work on that,” Lindberg said. “We talk about going through routines every time you go up to bat, we talk about how you are going to recover from failure, we look at other programs to try and point out things that they do that we should adapt and that we should learn from.”
For the softball program, Pallozzi has instilled four core values that apply every year — loyalty, integrity, respect and class. Furthermore, each season the players pick additional values that are important to the individual squad, which assistant coach Rinae Olsen said the South Hill squad does not wish to share because they are personal to the team.
Condon said the values were evident in the team’s play as it kicked off its season in Southern California over spring break. Despite posting a 2–6 record, Condon said the Bombers were in good spirits and did not get frustrated with each other.
“There was never a moment in the game where we did not believe we could win,” Condon said. “Whether it was the one hit that began a two-out rally, or one amazing play to end an inning, we strived for those moments to keep the energy high and help us stay relentless in our battle to win.”
But keeping the momentum up is not always easy, especially when playing against tough competition. Lindberg said the team relies on its upperclassmen to make sure that it is sticking with its core values.
“Consistency and leading by example are the best way to ensure that the team is maintaining their core values,” Lindberg said. “As a senior leader on the team, we are held to the highest standard and are expected to show up to every practice and game, with our core values in mind. The underclassmen look up to us.”
The team also went over its main philosophy for this year, “Starts with One,” which Lindberg said embodies the Bombers’ mentality going into this season. Lindberg also said the retreat is something the team will try to make an annual tradition.
“You basically have to break the game down into one small piece,” she said. “It’s one breath, it’s one step, we have one inning, one out, one game at a time. That’s how we kind of look at things, because if you try to make it bigger than it is, it gets overwhelming and you won’t be able to perform to the best of your ability.”