Athletes balance rigorous pre-season workouts with school

By Parijat Jha

Twenty years ago athletes such as Brett Rothgeb, a star football and basketball player at Dublin Coffman high school, did all of their work on the field. The off-season activities were minimal, and the players spent much of their off-season training individually or simply enjoying the time off.

Athletes have limited time to rest in the off-season. Instead they spend many days with their teammates working on preparing for the future.

“I think this change is brought upon by all the new resources athletes have these days,” Rothgeb said. “In my day we only had one gym. These days there are multiple weight rooms, gyms and fields to practice on.”

Rothgeb’s son, junior Damon Rothgeb, plays football and works out for the sport year round. He lifts, runs and does individual speed training all in preparation for football, Damon said.

Such dedication is typical for off-season athletes as they prepare for their respective sports. Athletes undergo rigorous activities such as lifting, running and even fundraising to raise money for their teams.

“I feel like in my dad’s day student athletes had it much easier. It’s easy to be overwhelmed[because of sports],” Damon said.

Junior Drew Dakin is a two-sport athlete and goes through preseason conditioning before both lacrosse and football season. Like most football players, Dakin begins his first few weeks of summer by lifting and conditioning. In late June, running and scrimmages begin, and soon part of the summer is lost in preparing for the upcoming season. After football season ends, he begins preparing for lacrosse.

“For me, since I can’t do anything in fall because of football, in the winter I go to indoor lacrosse. Along with indoor [lacrosse] we also have lifting, morning running, after-school captains’ running, open gyms and basketball,” Dakin said.

Despite the multitude of tasks laid out in front of Dakin and other athletes, he does not think that all the extra activities are unreasonable.

“All of the running helps condition and build stamina. I think it is definitely necessary, but there is a lot and sometimes it is difficult to balance everything,” Dakin said.

One of these scenarios is when lacrosse players have morning running, after-school captains’ running and open gyms all in one day.

Athletic trainer Ron Walters has spent many years dealing with these athletes. He said they do not have to be overwhelmed.

“It is the athlete’s choice to let the sports overwhelm them. Academics obviously come first,” Walters said. “In the past I have seen captains’ running [days] be on different days than morning running, but it all depends on how astute the athletes are, and how they decide to organize their activities.”

Walters said that lifting and conditioning are important parts of an athlete’s off-season. Off-season workouts are important because they not only prepare them for the season, but they also help reduce injuries.

Swimming and cheerleading are other sports that require major commitments. Sophomore Andrew Rabe decided to stop swimming after his freshman year.

“We have swimming practice almost everyday, even in the summer,” Rabe said. “It can be really hard to get school work done sometimes when I get home really late from practice.”

Cheerleaders are also often thought to have it easy, but sophomore Abby Dugger said cheerleading is nothing to laugh about.

“In the off-season I have tumbling classes, I prepare for tryouts and go to cheerleading camp,” Dugger said.

Athletes these days have many obligations to fill. Along with excelling in sports they must keep up with rigorous school work.

“Whether sports have a negative or positive effect on kids is their choice,” Walters said. “They just have to prioritize and learn how to manage their time appropriately.”