CONTRIBUTED BY PATRICK VESPA
While school is in session, reminders of athletics can be found everywhere. It is not uncommon to see a student lugging a duffel bag down the hallway or a group of teammates waiting for the bus at the corner of Tappan Street. As summer rolls around, however, it is easy to forget about the significant role that sports play. Despite this, the summer can be a time where athletics are emphasized more than ever, in the form of summer training.
Student athletes who partake in summer training to prepare for their season cite physical advantages, stress-free environment and personal freedom as benefits for doing so.
Junior Alishah Khan, a cross country runner, noticed her improved performance before and after training in the summer.
“Coming in as a freshman, I obviously didn’t do any summer training,” Khan said. “I found myself doing okay in the season, but the next summer I trained a lot. I found myself starting off the season at a much higher point, and if you start at a higher point, you’re going to end at a higher point.”
Another runner, senior Michael Zimmerman, sees the importance of continuously practicing.
“If I didn’t train over the summer, it’d be like freshman year every year,” Zimmerman said. “Running is one of those sports where you have to keep at it in order to be good at it.”
Since a coach is not present during the summer, athletes often have to rely on themselves for training during the summer.
Sophomore Kate Staff, a field hockey player, said the nature of captain’s practices are intermittent.
“We do have captain’s practices, but there’s only three or four during the summer,” Staff said. “So I try to do stuff on my own, probably about four days a week.”
Both Zimmerman and junior Patrick Vespa, a member of the crew team, take the freedom of summer as an opportunity to take their sport in entirely different directions.
“During the season, you have set runs that your coach tells you to do. In the summer, you basically just have to run,” Zimmerman said. “You can do it wherever you want and in whatever direction you want, so I like to mix things up on my runs to keep things interesting. Run to new places, different directions, explore new towns.”
“Because there’s less pressure you are able to try new things that you wouldn’t be able to do in the spring season,” Vespa said. “In the summer, you row a lot of small boats, like doubles and quads, which we don’t get to row that much in the spring.”
Apart from the physical improvements, these athletes recognize the way that training in the summer is good for mental health. For Staff, simply exercising acts as a catharsis of sorts.
“I think it’s good for mental health,” Staff said. “For me, at least, working out gets a lot of things off my mind.”
Zimmerman, who has attended various running camps throughout previous summers, mentioned the involvement of both physical and mental health training.
“You do running, but it’s also focused on training you on how to become a better runner, not only in terms of running itself, but also in terms of physical and mental health,” Zimmerman said. “What you eat, how you sleep, how you stretch and do core, and stuff like that.”
At the end of the day, these athletes unanimously agree that training during the summer is a beneficial way to achieve one’s athletic goals. Khan believes that you get what you give when it comes to training for cross country.
“If one of your goals is to make varsity, then training over the summer would definitely be a way to do that.” Khan said.
According to Vespa, summer training should be an obligation for most athletes.
“If you’re really passionate about the sport, you’d do summer training no matter what,” Vespa said.
Zimmerman optimistically believes in the athletic potential and everyone, and thinks that summer training is one way to realize that potential.
“The thing about running is that anyone can improve if you put in the work,” Zimmerman said. “Whether you’re a natural or you’ve never ran before, everyone is bound to make improvements. If you really want to see that happen, you have to put in that work.”