Football in heat of Spring Training Camp

For those of you who do not play a sport at Lawrence: The teams who do not have their season in the Spring partake in what is called spring training. It is a period where the athletes train in order to maintain their fitness and skills. This includes not only lifting, but actual practices as well. I asked Head Football Coach Rob McCarthy what he usually has the athletes do during spring season, and he said, “We work on technique, fundamentals, skill development, team building, conditioning and installing new schemes.” However, I was also curious about how preseason training differed from the spring training, due to the fact that during preseason the sports teams tend to practice twice a day and focus more on fitness in order to get their athletes ready to perform. The difference is that in the spring, the football players do not wear their pads or gear since there is no physical contact. Also, there is a limited amount of time that the players are allowed to be trained by their coach, unlike preseason, where the team practices more and harder. Preseason occurs for Football around two or two and a half weeks before school starts, meaning fall sports arrive on campus in the middle of August, whereas spring training happens at the end of the year, so it is more about reviewing. The whole team does not have to be together, so they can break off into their sections, for example by having an offensive meeting and a defensive one.

The football team recently hired two new coaches, Assistant Football Coach Cortez Carter, who works with the defensive linebackers, and Assistant Football Coach Jacob Iodence, who works with the quarterbacks. Head coach McCarthy stated that “Both the new coaches brought a wealth of knowledge and great passion, energy and enthusiasm to spring practice, as did our whole coaching staff.” Like most coaches, McCarthy sets goals for his athletes to accomplish over the summer. He says, “Our biggest hope for our players over the summer is for them to weight train and condition and come back to fall camp in great shape.” Having an athlete maintain their shape over the summer is crucial, especially if you are a fall athlete, because if you do not come back in shape, the team will fall behind and will have to focus on conditioning instead of technical work, which could mean the difference of making it to conference or not.

To conclude this interview I asked McCarthy what he was looking forward to for next season, he responded by saying, “We had a very young team last year with a number of sophomores and freshman contributing. While we will miss our seniors a great deal, we are excited to see what this young group can do next season and excited about getting some players back who missed much of last year because of injury and looking forward to our juniors stepping up as leaders.”

In order to get another perspective on howW spring training went I interviewed one of the athletes, Shawn McCandlish, a rising sophomore, on the football team. He said that “Spring ball is going extremely well, and I believe that our team has improved a lot because of it. We have been very productive, with the team learning and relearning our basics as well as how to run our schemes.” I then proceeded to ask McCandlish if he had any goals for himself for preseason or for over the summer, and he said that, “During preseason my goals were to improve my skills, as well as to play in games. I did accomplish those goals, as I feel that I got better throughout the season and played a significant part in several games for my position. I would still like to improve my skills in preparation for next season. Another one of my goals is to start next season.”

Every team has its ups and downs, so I asked McCandlish what he believed to be the football team’s greatest weakness and strength of this past season. McCandlish said, “I believe that our biggest problem last season was conditioning and discipline. Hard work and determination can help solve these problems, as well as the team mindset.” For their strength, he said, “Brotherhood. Our team believes in ourselves and believes in each other. This allows us to be able to do our jobs while being able to trust that our brothers will do their jobs.” Like most athletes, McCandlish aspires to get better, which will only come through challenges and hard work. I asked him what he is looking forward to for next year, and his response can be summed up by one word: determination. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of next season. Nothing is ever certain, but I believe that our team will be ready for whatever comes our way.” May his willpower inspire other athletes to push themselves and their teammates to be the best that they can be. And with that, get some rest, work hard, and have a great summer!