No time for vacation

Athletes continue training through summer to gain edge


photo by Bailey Fisher

Rising junior Matt Lipari throws a football at practice during the spring to stay in shape for the fall.

Vacation is a time of rest and relaxation. A chance to unwind, bury toes in the sand and forget about the headaches and stress that come throughout the year.

For athletes on the other hand, summer means anything but. It is an opportunity to work even harder, better skills and gain an early edge over the competition. Summer is the behind-the-scenes, often painful, work that leads to a successful season during the year.

For many teams, the season does not begin the first day of school. Teams such as cheerleading and football spend summer vacation getting acquainted with each other both in and out of practice.

“At the end of the day, we really don’t get the summer off, which might sound crazy, but it’s really what helps us succeed as a program and bond as a team,” rising senior Olivia Albano said.

In July, cheerleaders go to skills camp and a UCA camp held at UCF led by professionals to begin working on skills they will need perfected later in the season. These camps focus on building community among the team without taking up vital in-season time needed for practicing skills.

“The skills camp is all business,” Albano said. “This is where we really begin to solidify our skills and its basically the starting point to our season.”

Football also works out throughout summer due to their early season. Both seasons officially begin the week before school starts, with games beginning not far after. Football spends June and July in the weight room and begins on the field practice in August to ensure players are not only conditioned, but also knowledgeable about plays and drills.

“Workouts that serve a purpose give us durability and a physical edge over our opponents,” rising senior Bryson Hollen said. “The more physically prepared we are for tough teams at the end of the season, the better we’ll stand in those games.”

Practicing throughout summer gives teams with early seasons the chance to keep athletes at peak performance before they arrive back at school.

Other sports that occur later in the school year, such as track and baseball, keep their athletes equally as busy during vacation. Year-round training is a necessity to keep fast times and good marks in track events, and missing out on practice time can leave you falling behind in conference and district tournaments later in the season.

“I compete with a central Florida AAU team over the summer, so I can continue to train,” rising senior Paige Peterson said. “Offseason is the most beneficial part of training because it’s what separates you from your competition.”

Training runs parallel to success in individual sports like track, so summer is vital time to use as an advantage. Athletes meet twice a week during July to run sprints and lift weights, keeping their bodies in good health and muscle memory intact to their specific events. June is set aside as solo training, and head coach Matt Malkovich equips his athletes with hurdles, medicine balls, and other equipment to encourage activity while the coaches are away.

Peterson will especially be attending various AAU meets in June and July, competing against some of the state’s best athletes.

“Your competition is out there every day in the summer getting better,” Peterson said. “I keep my workouts just as hard as Monday through Friday during the regular season.”

Baseball players often take another route to off season training, as many choose to play on club teams such as FTB. Different from just staying conditioned, joining these teams gives players the chance to improve their skills related to the game itself, not just making their biceps a little bigger or their legs a little stronger.

Some sports, such as basketball, spend July attending college camps to gain both recruiting exposure and college experiences. The team travels to multiple local colleges such as UCF and Stetson, meeting with coaches and players, watching the basketball programs in action and giving players a look into their potential future.

While summer is a break from schoolwork, it does not keep people from putting in work in their sports.

“I don’t think of summer as time to take off,” Peterson said. “If you love [your sport], it’s worth it.”