For high school athletes, there is no off-season

As more athletes must practice year-round to keep up with the competition, the JC athletic program has implemented free off-season training programs

Running up and down the court and shooting baskets in preparation for a season that won’t commence for months, junior and varsity basketball forward Nate Roberts knows that he has to work hard now. He knows the only way to prepare for the season is to work towards what will inevitably be coming next year.

“There is no off-season.” This phrase is heard widely throughout athletics today. In the past, this was used in a joking manner, but it has now become a requirement for any successful athletic team. Whether it be on your own or with your team, practicing during the off-season is now critical. “It’s what people [and colleges] are kind of expecting now, keeping up with off-season training,” Athletic Director Steve Teter said.

The expectations among athletic programs have become “way more serious,” according to Teter. He believes that “from the time kids are seven years old, they are specializing in sports and going to trainers and doing all these things. It’s the way things are moving. If you don’t do it, you miss out.”

Roberts agrees that off-season training is an important tool for high school athletes and it gives him an extra leg up on his competitors. “Most athletes, after a while, die down, but me, I just keep going and it really is a difference maker. [It] gives me an extra step the average athletes don’t have,” Roberts said.

With the increased standards among high school athletes, JC has expanded their training programs to help students live up to expectations set by college athletics. For example, Assistant Athletic Director and men’s varsity lacrosse coach Brian King implemented an off-season program for lacrosse players to get better and be more prepared for the season. “A lot of kids, I realized, were spending $200 a month on training [outside of school] that we are doing here for free,” King said.

Most athletes, after a while, die down, but me, I just keep going and it really is a difference maker. [It] gives me an extra step the average athletes don’t have

— Junior Nate Roberts

After King was hired by JC in 2014, he implemented a nine-month program open to both varsity and JV players. King’s off-season program is designed to help give high schoolers the skills that they may need for the future. As a freshman, current senior lacrosse defenseman and Virginia Tech commit Caroline Barwick didn’t have the opportunities at JC that she now has today during the off-season. “[During] my freshman year, I wasn’t offered as many trainings for soccer, [and] I also didn’t have as many lacrosse trainings as I do now,” Barwick said.

While it sometimes appears that the stress of being a student athlete is too much to take on, some athletes feel that sports actually help them get through the stress. “There are many times when I have so much work to do, and it gets very stressful and overwhelming, but what keeps me going is the passion I have for sports. When I’m out on the field playing lacrosse or soccer, I forget about everything else and just have fun,” senior lacrosse midfielder and High Point commit Abby Hormes said.

All in all, many student athletes are committed to improving themselves every day and won’t quit until they reach their full potential.  “Although it pays a toll on the mind and body, the constant reminder [is] that all this labor and hard work has to pay off someday. So the grind is real,” Roberts said.

Grant Sharretts is an Online Chief for The Patriot and