Photo by Grace Allen
Story by Ahna Cobb
A deep breath in, and a deep breath out. The lights are dimmed and everyone lies perfectly still on the floor of the locker room. Aside from the hum of the lights, the room is completely silent. Listening to the calming voice of assistant coach Casey Gamero, the volleyball team focuses before their next game. Gamero walks them through breathing exercises and has them tighten their muscles and relax them repeatedly. She tells the team to envision making plays and celebrating each point. After this 10 minute session in the locker room the girl’s run into the main gym.
“We have a certain song that we run out to before games and that helps us focus. It helps us prepare for the game that we are about to play and enhances our performance,” said junior Ellie Boehnlein.
Every team has something different that helps them get ready before a game. The boys’ cross country team does a couple things in preparation for a meet. It is important that they complete their routine before going to run.
“We roll out our legs to loosen them up so we aren’t as tight which allows us to run faster. Then we drink a lot of water so we don’t cramp up when we race, and we use Flexall and it helps with pain relief,” said junior Wesley Jenkins. “It’s really about the mindset. The faster you do it, the quicker it’s over.”
An athlete’s mentality before competing sets the tone for the whole event. Being successful in cross country is very dependent on mentality. The girls’ cross country team frame of mind has to be in the right place before a meet.
“You have to be physically prepared but you also have to be really mentally prepared, because if you go into a race and you’re not mentally prepared then you are going to psych yourself out and you’re going to tell yourself you’re not going to have a strong race. Every time you run, you have to be willing to push yourself,” said sophomore Sydney Baxter.
Teams have to put in the work to get the results they want. Becoming a great team does not happen overnight. The commitment to getting better, stronger, and faster is not an easy one to make. The football team strives for excellence every time they step out onto the Ron Weigleb field.
“We want to make sure we hit every key to the game: offense, defense, special teams. We do a lot of individual work to improve our tackling and blocking skills. There’s a ton that goes into preparing for a game and we have to hit them every week,” said head football coach James Bragg.
Being physically conditioned is crucial to every sport. Soccer players could potentially run seven miles in one game. The length of a soccer field is 100 yards long and the games last 80 minutes. They need to be in good shape to maintain stamina.
“This year our team was more conditioned than we’ve ever been. When it came down to the end of the games, we were better prepared than the other teams,” said senior Connor Burke. “We were very well conditioned and that will continue to help us through the season.”
Determination to be the best gets athletes riled up. They train and compete to always come out on top. There is a high standard for athletes and drive allows them to reach it. The cheer team wants to exceed the expectations for this year.
“My motivation to work hard this year is a lot of things. I want to win state really bad and we have to work our hardest to achieve that goal. I have to be the best I can be because I know young girls are looking up to me. They come up to me and say ‘I want to be just like you when I get older’ and that pushes me to work hard,” said sophomore Kassi Ehalt.
State championships are high in demand and very scarce. Any state championship has to be earned. The best teams and kids in the state compete to determine whose work paid off the most and who is the best. The tennis team has been successful last year in sending some of their players to state.
“I want to get a state title this year and have a winning record. Our biggest competitor this season is probably North Central because they are close to our skill level,” said sophomore Jordan Wilson.
Nothing comes easy to a successful team. The work ethic and competition rise to a new level and teams have to play hard.
“We pushed ourselves past our limits this summer with various strength, agility, and endurance drill,” said Boehnlein. “It will be a lot of fun to see us improve and over the next few months and into the sectional.”