The holidays, for most college students, are a time to go back home, eat a home-cooked meal or two and get laundry done.

The holidays, for most college students, are a time to go back home, eat a home-cooked meal or two and get laundry done.
That is, of course, on top of seeing family and friends again.
However, for some members of the Pittsburg State dance team, those moments are not nearly as frequent as others.
While most college students were going home immediately after finals, the dance team stayed behind through Sunday’s Pitt State men’s basketball game with Southwestern and have to return quickly as the Gorillas are back home for another game on Dec. 31.
But, to those members that live farther away, it has almost become second nature to not have those long breaks between semesters to visit family.
“This is actually the longest one that I will have,” said junior captain Katie Jones. “Normally, I would be going home a lot later than this.”
Jones, from Kansas City, Kan., has been a member of the dance team for all three years she has been at PSU.
“The first year was hard because you are used to getting a long break but, now everyone in my family is pretty well used to it,” Jones said.
Jones is not the only member that has a distance from home.
Wichita native, and PSU sophomore, Liz Kester said that her holidays are a little tough because of the short time at home.
“It is harder,” Kester said. “My parents have never been to a basketball game to see what I get to do so they don’t know what is going on.”
It is just as hard for their coach, Stephanie Joiner, the wife of PSU assistant men’s basketball coach Derek Joiner.
“Coming in new in November, it was hard for me to ask them to give up their holidays,” Stephanie Joiner said.
However, it is like second-nature for Stephanie Joiner, who was a collegiate cheerleader at Oklahoma State University in addition to being on-hand to support her husband.
“I just don’t know any different because I am here for all the games with Derek,” Stephanie Joiner said.
Because of their shorter break, it means less time doing the traditional holiday things with friends and family.
“The actual day for me will be fine but the shopping before hand I don’t get to do because their really isn’t any time,” Kester said.
There is also the elimination of being able to do anything special with family.
“We wanted to take a family trip over Christmas, to Mexico I think, but we can’t because I have to be back here,” Kester said.
Not only is the time at home shorter for some members of the dance team, but then there is the part when they have to come back to school earlier than most students because of a scheduled game.
“When I’m at home and have to come back it is kind of a downer but when I get here I am okay,” Jones said.
Parting with family, especially after a very short break can take its toll.
And not just on the dancers.
“My mom gets a little sad when I have to come back,” Kester said.
So, with all that in mind, Stephanie Joiner said that it takes more on the mental side to get over the short break and to be able to come back to put their game faces on.
“They have great attitudes and they work hard,” Stephanie Joiner said. “They do a lot of good work and it makes my job much easier.”

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140