Can’t stop, won’t stop

When the season ends for Blugold athletes, the hard work they put in toward their sport is not finished — it’s just beginning.

The offseason and preseason are times many athletes use strategically to improve performance months away from competition.  Although they are not currently competing, Blugold athletes prepare themselves for the prime time by training and practicing consistently.

Junior Courtney Lewis of the women’s basketball team said the time before the season is vital for the season.

“The offseason is definitely one of the most important times because coming into the season you already have to be conditioned and ready to get right into learning plays,” Lewis said.

Workouts focusing on conditioning help athletes stay in shape for the upcoming season. They often place emphasis on weight lifting as well as strength, endurance and agility training.

Mental toughness is also important to work on in preparation for the season, wrestling captain Mat Rieckhoff said.  The wrestling team runs up the hill to improve their mindsets in exhausting and challenging circumstances.

In addition to these workouts, practicing the sport on a regular basis when there are not official practice times pays off in the long run, Lewis said.

However, several athletes said this work is voluntary because athletes cannot make contact with coaches for extended periods of time during the offseason. It is the athlete’s choice to be accountable to the team by coming to workouts on a regular basis. Head softball coach Leslie Huntington said she hopes the players on her softball team are staying dedicated to improving their athletic performance.

“It shows a really strong commitment because it’s challenging to motivate yourself at this time of year to work out,” she said.

Sophomore softball player Gracia Larson said with the help of teammates, especially upperclassmen, pushing each other to succeed in organized workout times, athletes are able to remain motivated and driven. Even when the payoff for their effort is not immediate. They can bond and come together as a team in helping each other out. Larson said the softball team does a good job of this and does not let each other slack off or miss workouts,

Success in the coming season is the main motivator for Blugold athletes. Larson said players on the softball team “truly think (they) are championship potential,” so they strive to reach that

potential in the offseason and preseason. The women’s basketball team is also determined to do better this season than the last, Lewis said. This gives them ambition in the difficult days of the offseason.

Huntington said another goal of offseason workouts and practices is gaining an advantage over the competition, which may not be investing as much time and effort out of season.

“Doing the things that we want them to do at this time of year should give them a competitive edge,” Huntington said.

On a personal level, getting strong and healthy in the offseason is essential, senior Jacob Dennis-Oehling of the men’s track team said.

Without sport commitments, athletes said they have more time to focus on schoolwork. They can take more credits when their sport is not in its season and they can concentrate more on classes.

The offseason may also help to give athletes better time management skills. Lewis said the women’s basketball preseason has helped her to learn how to effectively balance school and athletics.

Athletes said the offseason and preseason are beneficial times for Blugold athletes if they chose to use them well. As the winter and spring seasons approach, the evidence of choices will show.