Programs work hard in summer monthsPublished 4:11pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
Summer may be a time of fun and relaxation for many students, but if you play sports, it is a time for work – a time to become a better player and a better teammate.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association has tried to find the right balance between the proper amount of training time and relaxation time for student athletes.
In the past, the AHSAA has allowed each sport seven so-called play dates to schedule organized competition during the summer. Recently, the AHSAA made it four-dates. Even further regulations are expected in the near future.
Several coaches around the county have been actively preparing their players this summer for the upcoming seasons, and the following are the progress updates of what the coaches have been doing the past few weeks:
• Richard Maggerise, Red Bay High School baseball coach
“Between our four play dates and our kids playing American Legion ball we have been able to squeeze in 36 games this summer. During the state-allowed play dates, we played games at Calhoun Community College, we played in an umpire clinic, and we played Phil Campbell and Hackleburg. We want to play as much as possible to see players in different positions, work with different lineups, and see where our younger players are going to fit in. Coach Noah and Coach Jackson and I are working well together to get our guys the strength and conditioning they need about four days a week.”
• Mark Heaton, Russellville High School football coach
“We use our play dates to compete in 7-on-7 passing tournaments. This helps us refine our passing offense and defense in a competitive environment. I expect my players to be present every day possible. We ask players at the end of spring training if they know the days they will be out and we mark that in a calendar so that we always have a plan as to who should be present each day. This allows us to be efficient with our time.
“My goals as a coach this summer are to build a close-knit family bond with our players and coaches, to become better men, and to be better at all three phases of the game.
“The demands on multi-sport athletes are always tough but that is what makes those kids special. They learn the value of hard work at an early age through the dedication it takes to play multiple sports.”
• Paul Humphres, Vina High School girl’s basketball coach
“I use the state-provided play dates to help evaluate the players and also to teach the fundamentals of basketball. It also gives us the chance to reteach strategies both offensively and defensively that we were weak in the previous year. I do believe the summer needs to be fun as the athletes are still kids.”
• Greg Hamilton, Vina High School baseball coach
“Each summer has its own identity. We have used the play dates in the past. This year the majority of our team attended the Itawamba Community College overnight camp (four nights, four days). I use the summer for playing experience, using players at different position, and repetition. I do not make summer mandatory. This helps the multi-sport athlete have a little break. It also helps those kids that have to work to help their families in the summer. My goal for the players in the summer is to play as much as they can whether it be with the team or through individual instruction and to enhance strength and conditioning through workouts.
•Patrick Odom, Belgreen High School boy’s basketball and baseball coach
“I use all four play dates for basketball. We use two every summer at Wallace State Community College. In baseball we did not use any play dates because most of our players are so young. Many of our players play summer travel ball. I expect commitment and work ethic. The summer is a time to get better as an individual player. My goal is to learn my team. Every year your team is different so you try to learn your identity. At Belgreen, the multi-sport issue is different. Without football it is easier. In the past, I tried to be careful not to overdo it with the multi-sport kids. I think we as coaches need to remember that in the summer kids need to be kids.”
• Jonathan Odom, Tharptown High School boy’s basketball coach
“I like to use my play dates to do a couple of local dates at our school so our kids don’t have to travel as much. We also do a couple away from here so we can play teams we don’t usually see in the regular season. It is always helpful to see different teams from other parts of the state. I expect my players to show up. We don’t ask them to be there every day but they must show that they are committed to the team and to getting better.”
• Matt Noah, Red Bay High School boy’s basketball coach
“We utilize the four play dates allowed by the AHSAA. We try to stay local and play teams around here. I want our players to be committed to getting better in the summer. We are young so I think the summer gives us an opportunity to grow together as a team. It gives us a chance to see where some of the guys can help us and how they respond to pressure situations. Our coaching staff (football, baseball and basketball) works together to make sure we are on the same page from a strength and conditioning standpoint. I think this is key in the development our athletics as a whole.”
• Ryan Swinney, Phil Campbell High School football coach
“We workout four mornings a week with our strength and conditioning program. We require our players to be at workouts. I understand during summer some of our players work and play other sports. We don’t make basketball and baseball players workout during their play dates in June. Otherwise, we expect them to be here working to get better. We spend about an hour in the weight room every morning because our main goal in the summer is to get stronger. After weights we do our conditioning work outside either doing distance runs, sprints, running the bleachers or flipping tires. We will participate in two 7-on-7 passing camps in July – one at Mars Hill and one at Haleyville. We want the kids to have a summer and not overwork them but they recognize that if they want to get better and win the need to make a commitment. Our summer workout period is a time to improve, build a team atmosphere and find out who is willing to work.”