Time to hit the gym: athletes get ready for season
Sports in high school are one of the most important things to many students.
Athletes, in all sports, need to work in the offseason in order to be good. There are many ways athletes can train in the offseason but, it mostly depends on the sport being played. “I must run at least two miles everyday so when track comes, I will be ready for it,” track and field junior Benjamin Fritz said.
For sports such as football and basketball, the offseason is not much of an offseason at all. Players treat it as though it were the real deal. These players go through extensive training in order to prepare for their respective seasons. They must go to the gym every day to keep their muscles in shape and must also run to keep their cardiac up. “I work out every single day in the offseason. I go to the gym and run because if I don’t, I won’t play,” junior Jack Lvovsky said.
Some sports are more focused on technique than athleticism, such as cheerleading. “Cheer is all about repetition and practicing the same moves over and over,” junior cheerleader Erin Frost said. “Every single day in the offseason, I go to my training facility and practice tumbling to perfect it.”
Junior cheerleader Antonia Roach agreed with this sentiment. “Practicing the same things always gets very tiring but is a must if we want to succeed in cheer competitions and bring a championship home to Wootton,” Roach said.
One of the hardest sports to prepare for is wrestling. While it is typically a co-ed sport, there is only one girl on the team this year. Practices are long and brutal, lasting more than three hours, filled with cardio, weight lifting and wrestling. “Many team members quit because they cannot keep up with the exercise. Many members puke during tryouts. That is why the offseason is such an important time for athletes and especially wrestlers because they must be prepared for their practices,” junior captain Ben Bloch said.
It is common for athletes to participate in club teams in the offseason. This helps make sure they maintain their skills in order to be prepared for the season. Junior Matthew Kopsidas is the star goalie for the soccer team. He also plays on a club travel team called the Celtics. He travels to different places in the country and plays tournaments in order to get better. “It’s a huge grind playing throughout the year but if you end up playing well, it’s worth it,” Kopsidas said.
Coaches seem to agree on the benefits on training in the offseason as well. They place a lot of responsibility on their players in the offseason to keep up with their workouts and get ready to compete in season. Basketball coach Eric Graves describes the season as a marathon. “It takes a lot of hard work to get through these long seasons but it is worth it,” Graves said.
The offseason is vital to the success of the actual season. If the offseason is not used properly, athletes risk being behind at tryouts. This is why the offseason is needed to improve skills and prepare for the competition. It is important for every athlete to take advantage of this time to really hone in and get ready.
Put me in coach: bench-warmers’ time to shine
Graduate Sam Greene was a critical piece to one of the most highly skilled JV lacrosse teams this school has ever had, which consisted of 12 future varsity players. However, Greene was not one of those varsity athletes. He played a key role as a bench player. Rallying the men and keeping the star athletes focused was a huge part of his job.
Bench players are key parts to any successful athletic team. Not only is it their job to make sure everyone is focused, but they could also be called into action on the field anytime.
Junior basketball bench player Kobe Frimpong doesn’t earn that much time on the court, but he puts in a lot of work off the court. “I know my moment will come and till then I have to keep working” Frimpong said.
Golf is another sport where being a bench player is vital. Golf varsity spots are earned and lost every week. The starting lineup in constantly changing, which means that during any given week a bench player could make a match. This makes it very important for bench players to work hard and stay focused.
Bench-warmers are held to the same expectations as starting players. If bench players even slack off for a practice their chances of getting in the game could be over. It is their responsibility to work hard every day and to prove the coaches wrong.
Co-ed wrestling, a sport that requires of hard work, has key bench players. Athletes are often competing for varsity spots every week. It is important for the kids who don’t wrestle varsity to keep working because wrestling is a dangerous sport. If someone is injured the next man is up. “I make sure all of my players are working hard because you never know who is going to get in on any given week,” wrestling coach Shane Bramble said.
Some athletes take a different approach. The athletes who ride the bench and have a negative outlook don’t ever expect to play, thus leading them to sometimes quit all together. Simon Bloch, a graduate, made the varsity lacrosse team his junior year. He realized that the defensive position is very competitive so he decided to focus on his academics. “I understand I am not the best lacrosse player and riding the bench wasn’t worth the effort lacrosse requires,” Bloch said.
Sports are demanding when it comes to practice time and workouts. Not many students can be athletes at the same time. But, there are still hard working athletes who don’t ever give up regardless of their playtime.
These bench-warmers usually get a bad wrap for not playing as much, but they are actually vital assets to their respective teams.
College recruits go through stressful process to eventually reap benefits
We all have dreams.
Most of us just want to get through the math test sixth period. However, a handful of students in our school are driven by a different ambition. This goal is being able to continue their athletic passions well beyond high school and into their collegiate years. While this seems lofty, there is a small number of athletes who have the drive and talent to make it happen.
The recruitment process can be intimidating to high school athletes, who believe that it has more trade offs than benefits. Only 6 percent of high school athletes go on to play in college, according to NCAA. However, others see it in a more positive light. “Playing sports really helped me. It taught me how to balance both school and sports and also introduced me to a lot of people. My teammates became my best friends,” varsity softball coach Taylor Stockinger, former college athlete and coach for Catholic University said.
Regardless of the sport, the process is demanding. Athletes strive to find their perfect balance of athletics and academics in a single school.
Every player has their own idea of this perfect balance and it is important for them to not sacrifice items on their checklist just to be able to play in college. “It takes a lot of perseverance to find a good balance and not give up when something doesn’t go the way you had hoped. However, I believe that there is a school out there for everyone,” varsity softball player, junior Shannon Roberts said.
A huge part of the recruitment process for athletes is communicating with college coaches, making sure that they’re on their radar. For an athlete, the best thing they can do to increase their chances of being recruited is to make themselves known. Making the right connections is vital. “There are many players like you that are trying to be recruited. You’ve got to be the one person always in contact with the college coaches,” Stockinger said.
While talent level is certainly something that college coaches look for in an athlete, they are also looking for the perfect attitude and personality to fit their team. After all, a college sports team is like one big family so it’s crucial that the person they are recruiting is worthwhile in all aspects. “It is easy to find talent, but to find character and an attitude that fits the goals they are trying to achieve for their program, that is difficult,” Roberts said.
The light at the end of the tunnel comes in sight after an athlete has finally committed. A huge weight is lifted off their shoulders, as one benefit suddenly becomes clear: all of the stress they endured their years of high school pays off when they go into their senior year relatively stress-free. “The process that seniors are going through with finding colleges right now is what I was doing all of freshman and sophomore years. Committing definitely relieved some stress because I now had a foreseeable future,” senior Chloe Perel, a Brown field hockey commit, said.
If they are one of the lucky few who are able to live out their dreams to continue their sport in college, they will most likely be compensated in the form of scholarships, thus contributing to their college education. So, despite there not being a lot of students going down this path, the ones who challenge themselves will ultimately not be disappointed in their decision.
Athletes balance their heavy workload, schedules
Junior soccer player Andy Ram stands alone on the cold field under the bright lights, putting in hard work while nobody else is watching. He sets the ball down, steps back to take a deep breath, sets his feet, and finally steps in to strike the ball.
Training to be a collegiate athlete is undoubtedly time consuming. Student athletes face the rigorous challenge of balancing their busy schedule with academics and athletics. Some break under all this pressure. Coaches appreciate student athletes who maintain good grades because it displays proper work ethic and commitment.
This fall, Ram was a dominant force in the county, scoring 12 goals and four assists. Various college programs have interest in him due to his high-caliber play and being a hard-working student. “I play soccer every day because it’s what I love to do. It takes up a lot of my time so I have to work hard to do all my homework and study each night,” Ram said.
To get to the next level, it is helpful to have a strong support group at home. Sophomore varsity golfer Ryan Feldman was born into a family made for golf. His brother Justin, a 2015 graduate, is currently in his senior year at the University of Maryland on the golf team and his other brother Darren is a sophomore at the University of Arizona. “My boys play golf every day. During the winter they anxiously wait for the weather to turn so they can start playing again. I make sure they work hard in school because you don’t know where golf is going to take you but academics broadens your opportunities,” mother Marla Feldman said.
The coaches at the high school, college and club level continue to remind their players of the impact academics have on recruiting. Without good academics, a player won’t be able to stand out to college coaches, thus limiting their chances of getting to play in college. Junior varsity lacrosse assistant coach and 2018 graduate Simon Bloch always reminded his players to keep their grades up. “After practice each day I told the players to do their homework; they’re free points and there’s no excuse for incomplete homework,” Bloch said.
Varsity lacrosse player, junior Zane Cohen has committed his offseason to getting bigger, faster, and stronger in his athletics while also raising his grade point average. His father Jack Cohen is a strong role model in his life because of the work ethic he has physically and in the workplace. Every day after school Cohen goes to Lifetime Fitness from 3-5 p.m. to lift weights and run, so he has ample time to complete his school work afterward.
Players who raise a college teams’ cumulative grade point average and graduation rate tend to have an advantage over those with a lower grade point average. When coaches with interest reach out to player, the first question they ask is usually about grade point average and standardized test scores. “College coaches want athletes in their programs that will represent themselves and their university in a positive light and good grades are a good start,” according to USA Today High School Sports weekly academics column.
The time management aspect of being an athlete definitely has the potential to deter prospective talent. But, overtime, the players learn valuable skills that are applicable in many areas of their lives. They can transfer these skills from the field to the workplace and beyond.