Sports / The Prairie Fire / January 24, 2018

Athletes maintain edge in offseason

Sophomore Brendan Powers holds the bar above his head during weightlifting as an offseason workout for football. (Katy Coseglia / TKS)

For competitive college athletes, it’s important to stay strong physically and mentally in the offseason. For sports like football and soccer, it can be especially tough because the fields aren’t accessible during the winter and early spring. However, the athletes stay competitive and attempt to achieve their goals in the weight room and indoor facilities.

Junior soccer midfielder Gavin Douglas believes the mental aspect for the soccer team is very important.

“Our coaches give a lot of feedback for each individual player on what they need to do better for next season,” Douglas said. “Whether that be physical, whether that be on the ball or off the ball, we all have this individual thing or strive to work towards for next year. I think that’s a really good thing, for the soccer team at least, because everyone wants to better themselves in a certain way.”

The men’s soccer team has optional workouts four times a week at 6 a.m. Some of the men also exercise outside of team workouts in an attempt to achieve their offseason goals. These workouts aren’t mandatory due to NCAA rules, but Douglas believes their presence encourages the team to attend.

“[Workouts are] all completely optional but we have that independent drive to say, ‘maybe we should go to this one workout, maybe if we work just a little harder we’ll get that edge, we’ll win that game we lost last season,’” Douglas said.

The soccer team is very competitive and after a record of 13-3-4, only the most dynamic players will get to play in games. Junior Rodrigo Carvalho believes the first goal for each individual player is just to see time on the field.

“The first goal is to play. We have a team of 36-37 players, only 11 start,” Carvalho said. “So, that’s the first one. Everyone has personal goals. [For the] offseason you can have goals like gain some weight, get stronger, get faster, get more coordination. All of that will have an impact on your season.”

The defensive midfielder also brought up the fact that hard work wins games just as much as talent does.

“We’re all going [and] embracing the spirit of the offseason. Offseason is a place where if you work hard enough, it will make a difference in the future when you’re playing in regular season. We saw that this year, we had a good year. For us, it wasn’t enough and we have a good team, lots of talent, but sometimes that doesn’t win you games,” Carvalho said.

The women’s soccer team has a different regimen but still strives toward their individual and team goals in the offseason. Junior Annie Gerdes enjoys the more casual nature of scrimmaging with her teammates.

“To stay competitive, we play intramural soccer and play pickup games a lot,” Gerdes said. “Playing against one another is really fun because we get to compete without [worrying about] our statistics. . . It’s also nice to go against each other in a situation that isn’t in a practice formation.”

Gerdes also enjoys doing more upper body workouts and things that aren’t assigned by the coaches because it’s important to her to balance her workouts.

The women’s team has optional lifting three times a week with two sessions to encourage more attendance. As far as the mental game goes, the women don’t watch film on their performances in the offseason but focus on their skills in the present instead.

Junior Corina Leyva lives in the same dorm as many of her teammates and enjoys getting touches on the ball around her suite area. She also works out on the off days and believes in the mental aspect of competition.

“Staying close as a team, talking, being in constant communication. We have this thing called ‘hold the rope’ so we’re holding the rope for spring ball to make sure we’re ready and focused and fit and ready to go for spring ball and preseason,” Leyva said.

For the football team, the concept of having goals to achieve for regular season is still in place. However, their goals are achieved by a more intensive weight room program and less of a focus on their mental game.

For junior Logan Hollis, time management is the biggest thing. Football lifts three days a week, but the lifting schedule is completely personalized for each player.

“Our workouts are tailored so that they’re during classes,” Hollis said. “We can either lift first period, third period or sixth period. Whatever fits into your schedule, it’s integrated into your day so that’s really nice. You don’t have to worry about being up late or waking up super early.”

Sophomore Bryce Gabel also lifts on the team’s off days because he believes it helps to further the process of achieving his individual goals. He also enjoys watching film from their games last season, which are provided by the football coaches on Hudl, a game film reviewing tool, to sharpen his mental game.

“I watch a lot of footage from last season. This helps me get a better idea of how to perfect my game and to see what the team can improve on as a unit,” Gabel said.

Gabel also mentioned how difficult not having access to a field during winter can be, but thinks it’s also a good thing because the men will lift more and push themselves further in the offseason.

“Not being on the field in general is kind of tough. Not being able to get out there and run and do all the hitting and everything. The weights make up for that . . . because we go a lot tougher in the offseason,” Gabel said.

For sophomore Andrew Ledezma, there is no offseason. Last season was one of the football team’s best in recent memory as they finished 5-5. It’s important for the team to stay competitive and continue the intense level of competition they have been focused on since the fall.

“For us, there isn’t an offseason,” Ledezma said. “Once you come back, you get back into the grind of things; you don’t take a rest. Winter break is your break.”

Like soccer and football, the golf teams are also in their offseason. They resume their season on Feb. 5, but until then, the teams have focused on working with the new golf simulator that was installed last year. Individual lifts and workouts are up to the athletes, but golf aims to remain competitive in their offseason as well.

Freshman Elliot Bainbridge is excited for golf to resume. In the meantime, he trains with his teammates in the gym and enjoys using the simulator.

“With the simulator, we can play loads of different courses and calculate distances,” Bainbridge said. “It’s a very nice facility. Many Division III schools don’t have anything like it.”

Men’s and women’s soccer and football will return to their respective fields towards the end of spring term and have a short, yet play-heavy offseason in the spring, where they practice and train for the regular season. They will resume competitions in the fall, but hope to continue improving with their physical and mental workout regimens.

Emily Mosher, Sports Editor

Tags:  andrew ledezma annie gerdes brendan powers corina leyva elliot bainbridge Emily Mosher football gavin douglas Knox logan hollis offseason prairie fire rodrigo carvhalo soccer The Knox Student tks

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