Athletes train during off-season to better performance

Senior+Jordyn+Kendall+and+junior+Joanna+Zhang+run+on+the+track+early+one+Saturday+morning+to+prepare+for+the+upcoming+heart+of+track+season.+Photo+by+Paige+Kiehl+

Senior Jordyn Kendall and junior Joanna Zhang run on the track early one Saturday morning to prepare for the upcoming heart of track season. Photo by Paige Kiehl

Blake Becker

 

Senior Jordyn Kendall and junior Joanna Zhang run on the track early one Saturday morning to prepare for the upcoming heart of track season. Photo by Paige Kiehl
Senior Jordyn Kendall and junior Joanna Zhang run on the track early one Saturday morning to prepare for the upcoming heart of track season. Photo by Paige Kiehl
It was a frigid winter morning as senior David Plain walked onto the RBHS baseball field with the rest of the baseball team. For the players, the chill and fewer hours of sleep are an essential sacrifice to prepare for the season.

Many student athletes take part in off-season practice to keep their skills sharpened. Plain said off-season practice is a necessity affecting how players will perform in the coming season and is key to their success.

“[Practice] is huge. We had a really good team last year, and we’ve got a whole bunch of new kids that are going to have to step it up this year,” he said. “It also gives us time to get our heads on straight because the season starts real soon, and we’ve got to be prepared for it, so anything we can get done now we need to do.”

During the preseason, the baseball team practices before school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and after school Monday through Thursday. Head Coach Justin Towe said for the players to stay on top of their game, they must be working on and off the field to uphold the quality of game play.

“You can’t just walk out and play, so if these guys want to play at a high level then they’re gonna have to put in more work,” Towe said, “which is unfortunately why we don’t see a lot of kids playing multiple sports anymore.”

However, because team practices are often legally restricted in the off-season, junior Harry Stanton of the boys swim team finds ways to stay in shape on his own. Stanton said he pushed himself and gained muscle by joining the wrestling team.

Wrestling is “a great workout. It strengthens muscles that you need for swimming, [and] it’s also great cardio which keeps your lungs strong … pretty much every aspect of it helps in relation to swimming,” Stanton said. “I’m not really one of those guys that can just do great no matter what; I need to always try and work out all the kinks … and wrestling helps me do that when swimming isn’t in session.”

RBHS Athletic Trainer Greg Nagel said he finds it mentally and physically beneficial for student athletes to participate in multiple sports but sometimes encounters athletes who can hurt their bodies and well-being by overloading their schedules.

“I think there’s a way that you can do multiple sports and train a lot and be healthy, but when you start to see those small injuries occur over shorter periods of time … I think those are the athletes that need to be concerned with overtraining.”

Such overtraining made senior Olivia Mends pull her Achilles tendon and sprain an ankle during her junior year while participating in club soccer and the RBHS cross country team, a typical injury Greg sees from hurt athletes. Mends said that while the 60 miles a week she ran took its toll, the off-time she acquired with her injury had its detriments along with its benefits.

“It kinda slow[s] things down, and sometimes it’s for the better because I couldn’t do as long of practices … but at the same time it was stressful because I had to get back to running to get back in shape,” Mends said. “It was always frustrating because you had to go to physical therapy every day to make sure you were getting better, and so it’s got its plus and minuses.”

However, for the baseball team, these off-season practices are beneficial and supported by a strong atmosphere along with players knowing what is to be expected if they are to perform well.

“Rarely will we not have guys show up, they know that it’s a commitment and that’s just something that they know to do and know to expect … we’ll go all the way ’til the end of school,” Towe said. “They know when they sign up for it what they’ve been getting into.”

By Blake Becker 

Additional reporting by George Sarafianos

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