While some of us devote our summers to avoiding the scorching heat (and procrastinating summer assignments), athletes from different sports utilize summer to prepare for the main fall and spring season. From football to club lacrosse, dedicated team members brave the Florida heat to practice on the Heritage fields.
With the football season rapidly approaching, the football program used this summer for strength and conditioning and seven on seven practices against other schools. Although mainly varsity players attended these practices, several JV players participated as well. On average, about 70 players attend each practice.
“We call it voluntary-mandatory. If you want to be successful when the season starts, we feel you need that summer training because its running and conditioning,” head coach Patrick Surtain said. “It builds a bond and camaraderie with the team. We expect all our guys to be here, and for the most part, they are.”
Practices, which occurred Mondays through Fridays, were not mandatory, but attendance was strongly encouraged. “As this is a very physical sport and requires a lot of stamina and strength, our coaches believe that the student athletes who put in the hard conditioning work during the summer are much more prepared, and this also helps reduce the possibility of injuries during the season,” Mrs. Karen Stearns, Athletic Director, said.
During these practices, coaches favored strength and conditioning over strategy, saving the latter for regular season practices. However, to Coach Surtain, both types of practices are vital to the team’s success.
“The summer prepares you for the fall. Championships are won during the summer when it’s hot, often 100 degrees, and you’re out there running and the coach is pushing you,” Coach Surtain said. “During the fall you’re doing more football-related drills, preparing for the next team, whereas summer conditioning trains you to become faster and stronger.”
As for coaching, the coaches during the summer remain the same as the coaches during the regular season, with the addition of strength and conditioning coach Mike Smith, who organizes summer sports training.
“We have the best trainer in the world,” senior Khristopher Love said. “Mike Smith put us through the worst so we can be the best,” senior Kerry Graham added.
In addition to the football team, club lacrosse team Florida Surge took advantage of the Heritage sports facilities. While the team itself doesn’t represent the school as it is a club team, many players and coaches from Florida Surge are a part of the school’s lacrosse team. For example, Dean Chad Moore doubles as head coach for both the Heritage and club team.
The practice schedule for the team varies. “Serious athletes, especially those looking to play in college, are training and working out three to five days per week in addition to practice,” Coach Moore said. “Club practices go anywhere from two to four days per week mostly depending on the weather and when the next tournament is. Typical practices last two hours.”
Like the football team, the lacrosse team’s practices are designed to prepare the team for the main season. “Summer practice is basically the same as a regular in-season practice,” Coach Moore said. “Skill development, team concepts and schemes and lots of conditioning go into our practices.”
The players hold a different opinion on the similarities between summer training and regular season practices. “I would say that summer training is harder than during the school year because we have to run and workout instead of just one or the other,” junior Connor Maron said, “and the coaches don’t have to worry about the players being tired from school for practice.”
While Florida’s weather seems to vary between hot and hotter, the degree of heat and humidity changes between the summer and spring. “Summer training is way different from training in the regular season because of the Florida weather,” junior Jake Marek said. “The humidity kills me, but it also makes me way more in shape and prepared for when it cools down.”
Marek feels the benefits of summer training outweighs the heat. “The best part of training is feeling the burning in your muscles and the worst is knowing the next day you are going to be sore from your previous workout,” Marek said. “Training during the summer is hard work and tiring but in the long run worth it.”