The competition season for a lot of sports can feel like quite a grind. Most varsity athletic sports at Lawrence compete in between 10 and 35 games each year. Because of how extensive the season can be, and due to the academic rigor all students face, the offseasons are generally disregarded.
However, it can never be understated the amount of work that all student-athletes put into perfecting their individual crafts. Whether it be practicing technique, strategy or improving general athleticism and strength, student-athletes at Lawrence work hard.
Junior Jake Lueck, of the football team, stated, “We want everyone to come into spring ball in the shape they’d be for the start of the actual season. [That] doesn’t always happen, but it’s our general goal.” He went on to elaborate about the work ethic of many of the players.
Because it is the offseason, it can become difficult for many to balance all the responsibilities, and the sport will regularly slide down on the list of priorities, understandably so. Work, academics, personal lives and many other factors, while already important, become much more of a concern when you are no longer practicing daily.
A lot of the troubles a team might go through in the season also show up during offseason practices. Sometimes, though, unexpected situations occur. Lueck mentioned specifically the turnover on position-specific players, and the level of preparation of the team. “We have a lot of returning starters, and that’s going to help a lot. [Unfortunately] we don’t really have an offensive line. We couldn’t really field a team right not, but everywhere else, we haven’t lost a step.”
Spring football practices this year have included a majority, by a long shot, of passing concepts. The lack of an offensive line combined with a limited running back corps has created the perfect conditions for development of the passing game on both offense and defense.
This does not have to be detrimental to the team, and helps bring to light a larger purpose of the practices. “Spring ball, for one thing, gets you excited for what’s going to come, but also you have time to reconnect as a team,” Lueck said. He continued to emphasize the effect that getting back on the turf has for the team, and expressed pure gratitude for the opportunity to once again represent Lawrence.
When it comes to the offseason, there is not a single person working harder for Lawrence University than Strength and Conditioning (S&C) Coach Dustin Winnekins. There will be a new S&C Coach hired in the fall, meaning that this is “Coach Big D’s” last term helping out the Vikings. Every sport has had the opportunity to benefit from his instruction, and has seen vast improvement from it. Lueck stated, “Big D has been with us all along the way, and he’s transformed our class. [All of the football players’] body types have transformed from where we were as freshmen, and that’s in part because of Coach D.”
The offseason can be a long and grueling process, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work takes place. The academic grind of Spring Term is offset slightly by the opportunity to practice once again, and all teams are trying to make the most of it.