Time On Their Hands

With newly found free time on their hands, many Huskies use it to take up new hobbies and learn new skills

By Michael Ruberto

Reaching Division I collegiate athletics is not just a measure of skill, but of dedication and willpower. Many athletes have trained since they were young children, spending countless hours every week at the gym or on the field in pursuit of excellence. But when COVID-19 shut down much of the world this year, those athletes were forced to stay home. Now, with so much extra free time on their hands, many Huskies have found themselves trying to pass the time by learning new skills and pursuing hobbies.

Take, for instance, the men’s soccer team, where a few athletes joined together at the start of lockdown to start a book club.

“We decided to start a book club because we knew we would have more time in the summer, because we weren’t sure when our season would start,” senior defender Adama Kaba explained. “We tried to take the opportunity to educate ourselves and find more resources out there.”

Despite the physical distance, they were able to stay close and grow as both teammates and students by reading a new book every month.

As freshman defender Michael Montanaro put it: “There were a lot of self-improvement books, but we tried to pick different types of self improvement books. We wanted to try and mix it up and read as many as we could.”

“Most of the books we read weren’t athletic specific, but more mental specific,” Kaba said. “One of the books we read … was more business oriented. It talked about specific examples of businesses going from good to great and how the business leaders thought within those organizations [Good to Great by Jim Collins].”

As for which book was the best, the group had varying answers. While Kaba enjoyed Tim Grover’s Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, Montanaro preferred the fictional title The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a story of a shepherd “who wanted to chase a dream that he had. It was about omens and finding your path and not just being fine with where you are,” Montanaro said.

While some Huskies have been spending time in the library, others have looked to the kitchen, teaching themselves how to cook for themselves and their roommates. For some, like sophomore track and field athlete Liam Landau, the reason for that is simple.

“It’s just nice to taste good food without having to pay that premium price,” he explained. “There’s no better feeling than a full stomach, so why not just make my own food instead of paying 50 dollars somewhere?”

For Landau, cooking is a fun way to express his creativity, and while he cooks a wide variety of meals, he particularly enjoys trying his hand at making dessert.

“The best dish I’ve made so far was a panna cotta with my own raspberry sauce on top. I’ve only made one batch of it, but it was easily the tastiest thing I’ve made,” Landau said. “It looks appealing, it’s great, and it’s pretty easy.”

Liam Landau’s panna cota with raspberry sauce on top

As Landau explained, while eating a delicious homemade meal is satisfying – it’s a rewarding feeling to prepare an intricate dish without being a professional chef – cooking, much like a book club, also provides a way to bring friends and teammates closer together.

“Usually if anyone cooks in our apartment, we eat together and make a large meal,” he said. “It’s a really good bonding experience for us.”

Other athletes, such as Northeastern dance team sophomore Olivia Kriedeman-Hubbard, have spent their time since the lockdowns began teaching themselves how to play a new instrument. Kriedeman-Hubbard, who picked up the ukulele over the summer, cited her newfound free time as a major reason for her new hobby.

“I’m very passionate about singing as well as dancing, and I thought this would be a good time to really focus on honing my skills and not letting myself get into a rut just because I was stuck at home,” Kriedeman-Hubbard said. “So I decided to pick up something to devote my time to.”

Deciding to teach herself a new instrument was an easy decision for the dancer, as she used to play the piano and the viola. But when Kriedeman-Hubbard became more committed to dancing, it became harder and harder for her to find the time to continue playing. As dance studios across Massachusetts closed due to the pandemic, she began to find the time to take on a new challenge.

“A ukulele is very different from a viola, so learning the different strings and the different chords was difficult,” Kriedeman-Hubbard explained. “Also, I was just very out of practice, so it was hard to figure out how to strum or pluck again.”

Once she started to get the hang of the instrument, she was able to hit the ground running and teach herself new songs. Her favorite? She immediately answered with “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows.

From book clubs to cooking to ukulele, Huskies from all different sports have been taking full advantage of their newfound free time. While they may not have been able to improve their times and personal bests on the track or in the gym, they’ve certainly made the most of this unique opportunity.

“We wanted to … improve each other,” Montanaro summarized. “At school, on the soccer field, and as leaders.”