By Kevin Stone, Contributing Writer
REGION – Summer workouts are back for local high school sports teams. That’s good news, coaches say, after COVID-19 disrupted this portion of the offseason last year.
Indeed, in this final full week of July, there are summer camps, conditioning camps and any number of other summer workouts taking place around the state. High school coaches note that they value this time, especially since the MIAA bans “out of season” coaching.
Championship teams at most levels often talk about how getting together in the offseason and building team chemistry early factored in to an eventual title. In high school, coaches note that this time is even more important with many other things going in the kids’ lives.
“Not having the opportunity last year to have team workout[s] definitely had an impact on us and other teams,” said Algonquin football coach Mark Allen.
For Allen in particular, being a first-year head coach and not being able to get to know your team made things extremely difficult. An ability to work out together in the summer would have been a golden opportunity for the gelling to begin before the season began. But, instead, that didn’t come until the first week of practice.
“As a first year head coach, it was definitely hard not seeing the kids, or for them to not be around their teammates,” Allen said. “I think most teams likely saw the on-field impact that had as well.”
Now that they’re back in full swing, Allen is thrilled his players can have a normal offseason with camp set to start in just four weeks.
“We’re grateful to be able to have conditioning workouts this summer, for so many reasons,” he said. “I think injury prevention and building team camaraderie are two of the biggest reasons for the kids to come to workouts.”
“There’s nothing like the energy and excitement when a kid goes for a big lift or when they’re running together doing sprints, pushing each other and hyping each other up,” Allen continued. “When workouts are voluntary but you have big numbers attending, you know the kids are working to get better together. I’ve seen team leaders emerge throughout the summer and tough workouts, and that goes a long way as well.”
On the flip side, coaches like Algonquin girls soccer coach John Clifford have been at this for quite a while. Still, they understand just how important summer workouts can be.
“I think, more than ever, these were invaluable to the kids having some fun, hope, and normalcy in their lives which experienced so much disruption,” Clifford said. “How much did it contribute to our success in the fall? [That’s] hard to say. But I’m glad we didn’t have to experience going without. Everything has been hard enough. Having that soccer during the summer was great for everyone.”