The competitiveness of East athletics has driven athletes to find ways to push themselves in their respective sports: running suicides, watching training videos, weight training beyond their limits. Students are becoming more likely to seek extra help outside of the set team training programs, calling in personal trainers and private sessions with coaches. This year especially, there has been a growing trend in the way that athletes prepare themselves for their upcoming seasons away from the team.
In some cases, athletes do not even play the sport they love the most – rather, they sacrifice their passion to play a sport that they are likely to excel in.
Junior Will Cray has attempted three different sports at East and has started over this season with a brand new sport, soccer. Cray hadn’t kicked around a soccer ball in years before he talked with his friends last spring about making a switch into the sport, but decided he was going to try out for goalie regardless.
“I stopped playing basketball and started thinking about soccer because I thought that I was not going to get enough playing time in [basketball] order for the work to be worth it,” Cray said.
Cray went to kick-arounds during the summer but also received hands-on coaching from his coach Brude Williams, going to him for help with and advice about his position. Williams, the keeper coach at East, did a few private lessons with Cray preseason to show him exactly how to be a goalie.
“[The training sessions] helped me with getting the technique down, so that I could use it on the field,” Cray said. “[His drills] made me get used to the way a keeper moves, and the different saves I would make.”
According to head football coach Chip Sherman, sports teams at East have become more and more competitive with each mounting school year. He has noticed how prestigious sports are becoming at East. This forces athletes to wonder whether they are even good enough to try out for the sports they are passionate about.
“East has had a wonderful tradition of sports – tennis, swimming, golf–that are all really strong,” Sherman said. “Now, we are trying to get all of the other sports to [be strong] as well. We are getting better and better all the time.”
This strive for excellence has led athletes in a variety of sports to resort to personal training and specialized programs to get an advantage in the sports they participate in.
“Every situation is different, some kids may really benefit from a personal trainer,” Sherman said. “There are many kids that can thrive from that. Personal training’s biggest benefit is that it gets really slowed down, and you get individual attention to learn and get specialized.”
According to Sherman, the amount of personal training has decreased with certain sports. Sports like tennis, golf and swimming require a lot of personal training, giving the players an advantage–but with football, basketball and baseball there is more help within school.
“There are not as many [athletes going to trainers] as when I first came here,” Sherman said. “Now the kids feels like they get a lot of their programming done here at school. Parents don’t feel like they have to pay any extra money to go to a specialized place to get training like that.”
Junior Will Humphrey loved soccer, but was frustrated that he was not getting much playing time. His foot skills from soccer led him to his new position in football: the kicker.
“I’ve been getting help from the kicking coach for football,” Humphrey said. “Dane, the kicking coach, comes to practice once a week to give [the other kicker, senior Sean Luenz] and I tips on how to become better and more consistent at kicking. He has helped me become more consistent and taught me certain drills that have made me better.”
This summer he was working and preparing for the upcoming football season, rather than training for soccer like he had before. Other students’ behavior reflects Humphrey’s: many more are looking at outside resources for the extra drive to put them ahead.
Junior basketball player Zach Schneider has participated in camps and skill-building programs in which he has seen great improvement in his playing skills. His training programs consist of skill work, conditioning and strength training that he believed helped increase his athletic ability.
“I believe it helped increase my athleticism and especially my skill set in my sport,” Schneider says. “I went to them because I love playing basketball and love it enough to work at it to be the best I can be. I think it definitely put me ahead.”
Senior Conner Schrock shows how playing the sport you love makes it easier to practice due to how much you enjoy it and how outside practice can help. He has had lessons and is constantly learning how to change and improve his golf game. All of the workouts and extra time practicing his skills have added up to his success.
“Just this year I’ve started working out more and I was surprised how much it helped my golf,” Schrock said. “To succeed in golf, I have to work hard and be disciplined about my practice schedule, sometimes that means sacrificing being with my friends but in the end it pays off.“
Schrock and Schneider represent situations where their skill applies to the sport they are passionate about. But this isn’t always the case. Junior Jackson Stephens was a much better baseball player than any other sport, yet he chose to quit the spring sport and prepare to play soccer in the fall, because that is the sport he most enjoyed. For senior baseball player Kurt Jensen, extra practice is nothing new to him–he has been receiving hitting lessons since he was in middle school. The lesson helped his hitting due to the repetition.
“I have more bat control,” Jenson said. “I went to get a lesson just because my dad wanted me to, but then I started to enjoy it once I got better at it.”
Regardless of the motives behind joining a team, being involved in sports can help a student learn values and rules of conduct. Students are shown how to practice self-discipline and how to work with others to accomplish a specific goal. For some, being involved in a sport is one of the most important aspects of their high school experience.
“I always tell somebody that if you like being part of a team, and you like doing it then id. “It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you like it and you are helping out with the sport and yourself and the main thing is that you are enjoying it.”