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High school athletes benefit from off-season workouts, camps

“It doesn’t take talent to hustle.” -- H. Jackson Brown.

Athletics at the Pagosa Springs High School do not always end with the final game of a sports season, at least not for the dedicated athletes who decide to take the sport home with them. The value of summer camps and training during the off-season is widely agreed upon by coaches and athletes alike as giving players an advantage during the season.

From lifting weights a few times a week with teammates, to running alone every morning, the prospect of off-season training appeals both to athletes and their coaches alike.

The positive effect on the athlete’s endurance and physical ability is noticeable when an athlete decides to take preemptive steps to better their abilities before the next season.

The Pirates’ head football coach Olin Garrison commented on off-season training saying, “It is absolutely vital. Football is the first sport during the fall, so keeping up and increasing strength and mobility off-season is very important.” Garrison continued by reminding anyone interested in playing football this year that equipment will be issued to all players on July 13 at 6 p.m. The first 10-day camp starts on July 16 at 6 p.m., and two-a-days begin Aug. 13 at 8 a.m.

Head wrestling coach Dan Janowsky works with athletes in the weight room at the high school on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. When asked about the difference he sees in athletes who participate, he said, “If I didn’t see a difference I wouldn’t do it. Although there is not always a direct relationship to being good and these kinds of practices, it does help them, and it especially helps build relationships with the kids.”

Golf coach Mark Faber commented, saying, “I always encourage my athletes to participate in golf opportunities outside of what I can offer them. The ones that I see doing well in tournaments during the season are the ones who take the game more seriously by practicing during the summer.”

Head soccer coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason said, “I think it’s absolutely important. Training is a lifestyle. Off-season training prepares you to be at your best. If you come to the first day of the season without any preparation, it takes six weeks to get to the level of physical fitness that we need to be competitive. If you want to be competitive right away you need to prepare.”

Track coach Scott White added to the list of benefits, saying, “Training is really make or break for these kids. The ones who are devoted off-season have better athleticism, less injuries and more confidence in themselves.”

Coaches agreed that off-season training is the way to take an athlete to a more competitive level physically. However, on a technical note, sports camps can also offer benefits to athletes in many other key areas. Although they incorporate physical activity into their routine, sports camps are also sought after for what they can offer in terms of perfecting the fundamentals of a sport.

Connie O’Donnell, the head volleyball coach at Pagosa Springs High School, pointed out the value she sees in sports camps saying, “Sports camps offer many benefits to athletes. They keep them competitive with scrimmages, offer them time to work on individual skills and most importantly help them bond even more as a team.”

Kurt-Mason noted a beneficial connection between off-season training and sports camps saying, “We have two sports camps coming up for soccer players. Both of these camps are arduous, week-long events. Athletes that come prepared physically will get the most out of these camps to help build their skills. Camps are like a full season of experience, our players get so much time with the ball and that is truly beneficial. If you aren’t prepared physically, though, you might not get all of the skills the camp has to offer.”

Silas Thompson, a varsity wrestler, said, “The summer camp for wrestlers, Wrestle the World, gives wrestlers an environment where they can focus solely on becoming better without any distractions. In the end you come out with a stronger will.”

Zachariah Griego, a varsity basketball player, commented on sports camp experience, saying, “I feel like they’re great. The players that go to the camps do get better than the ones who don’t, and you get an advantage during the season because of it.”

When coupled together, training and sports camps can provide a significant boost to any athlete’s game. However, one concern that is raised is whether all Pagosa Springs High School athletes have the financial ability to participate in sports camps.

Janowsky replied to the question about the financial aspect of the camp experience, “We have one sports camp at the beginning of summer. We don’t charge our athletes for it because it is all done locally. We also help pay for it by charging the athletes from out of town who participate.”

O’Donnell said, “We try not to make money an issue. We mostly go to scrimmages out of town, which we pay for with fund-raiser money.”

Kurt-Mason gave his perspective on the sports camps he supports, saying, “I have a scholarship available if an athlete does need it and I don’t have a problem with that aspect of our camps. I usually tell my athletes that they can budget their money and pass on things they really don’t need, like a movie, so they can come to the camp.”

Although there are different perspectives on the topic of off-season training and sports camps, all the coaches interviewed agreed that there are many positive benefits to be had by athletes who pursue these endeavors.

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