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Pitt athletes build chemistry from rooming together - The Pitt News

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Pitt athletes build chemistry from rooming together

Pitt%27s+men%27s+soccer+team+fought+hard+but+couldn%27t+find+a+tying+goal+against+No.+2+North+Carolina.++Meghan+Sunners+%7C+Senior+Staff+Photographer
Pitt's men's soccer team fought hard but couldn't find a tying goal against No. 2 North Carolina.  Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt's men's soccer team fought hard but couldn't find a tying goal against No. 2 North Carolina. Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt's men's soccer team fought hard but couldn't find a tying goal against No. 2 North Carolina. Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

By Adam Richman / for The Pitt News

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After a game, men’s soccer midfielders Raj Kahlon and Darcy Bloemen unwind and break down the action — by playing Madden back in their apartment.

“Madden is a strategic game, so after soccer, we’ll play Madden. That makes us critique every part of the game,” Kahlon said.

What makes this analysis easier is that even hours after games end, the teammates can easily discuss performances or results if they want. Kahlon and Bloemen, plus volleyball players Kadi Kullerkann and Jenna Potts, use living with teammates as a convenient way to build team chemistry and grow closer to their fellow athletes outside of competition.

Getting to live with teammates, though, wasn’t so easy. Like many Pitt students, Kahlon and Bloemen scrambled to settle on a living situation due to its competitive nature, and didn’t land an apartment until April.

Luckily for the two sophomore midfielders, both knew they wanted to live together after their freshman year in Sutherland Hall.

“We’re both from Toronto, so that kind of helped us become friends,” Kahlon said. “Being roommates in Sutherland, everything went well, so we wanted to be roommates again.”

Unlike Kahlon and Bloemen, Kullerkann and Potts did not know each other entering the year. Kullerkann is a graduate student new to the team after transferring from Houston, whereas Potts is a redshirt junior.

“If need be, it would be healthy venting, but nothing destructive,” Potts said. “The other night, we were watching film from Louisville, and we were talking about how much it hurt to lose that game. It’s more about the outcome, rather than about this play or that player.”

Darcy Bloemen and Raj Kahlon are teammates and roomates.  Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

Darcy Bloemen and Raj Kahlon are teammates and roomates. Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

With their busy class and practice schedules, though, the pairs of teammates rarely find time together at home to unwind and hang out, especially as Potts and Kullerkann both have several night classes.

“Throughout the day, you do your own things,” Kullerkann said. “Then we have practice from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and once we get back from classes late at night, I usually go to bed.”

When they do have downtime together, though, they take advantage and hang out together as roommates and as a team, often by hosting the team for dinners. The players leave all their effort in the games, so their home can become a sanctuary where they can relax and bond without the thought of competition lingering.

“Sometimes I’ll cook dinner for all of us, and we’ll all just hang out together and watch TV,” Kullerkann said. “It’s pretty casual, just like taking some time off together.”

That time together has taught the athletes that their teammates often have far different pregame rituals than they do. Kahlon and Potts nap before games, while Bloemen and Kullerkann are more active while they prepare.

“[Game day] is my day to run errands, so usually I get up at a normal time and do whatever I need to do,” Kullerkann said. “Our [team’s] pregame routine is pretty long, [so] I try to get as much stuff in as I can beforehand.”

According to Kahlon, though, the best part of living with a teammate is not necessarily relevant to soccer, but rather about the friendship that forms naturally.

“We’re very similar. The fact that we’re both from Toronto [means] we can plan when we’re going to go home together,” Kahlon said. “I like the fact that we weren’t really friends when we came to Pitt, and now we’re best friends. The fact that we’re going through this together, it’s kind of cool.”

Bloemen said having a common cultural background with his roommate opens up conversation he couldn’t have with his other teammates.

“Coming from another country, it’s nice to have someone from the same country that you can go through [everything] with,” he said. “This year, we know each other and everything, but you make lifelong friends [by living together].”

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Pitt athletes build chemistry from rooming together