It doesn’t matter whether or not it says it on the calendar but last week was the last week of summer vacation for high school sports athletes.
No school doesn’t start up for another few weeks or so, but with the start of high school sports seasons officially coming next week, that makes this one the dreaded week of serious conditioning.
At Madison-Plains High School the football program affectionately refers to it as “Hell Week” and coach Jason Hunt had a special treat waiting for the Golden Eagles when they showed up for what they thought was going to be another typical day of conditioning on Monday, July 28.
The coach had a group of local Marines waiting for his team to run through a day of military-type conditioning drills. The idea came to the coach earlier this summer and he was happy it was able to work out.
“The Marines had a booth set up at one of the clinics we went to this year so I talked to my coaches and we went ahead and signed up for it,” Hunt said. “We wanted to take a day and see if we could make it work out and it just worked out that they could be here for the first day of conditioning. It’s great way to start a Monday.”
To help soften the shock of suddenly going through an unexpected extra-strenuous workout, Hunt and a couple of his coaches decided to go through it as well.
“There’s a reason why you have to be under 35 to go to boot camp, ” an-out-of-breath Hunt said between workout stations. “This can be something horrible or this can be something fun and they’re out watching me do it and hopefully they’re having fun.”
The collection of Marines at the practice had the Golden Eagles players running 800-meters around the school’s track, going through an agility course, flipping oversized tractor tires and routinely lifting 35-pound metal ammunition boxes over their heads non-stop for two minutes.
Hunt, who is beginning his second year at Plains, is determined to make the football program at his alma mater and interest in the Golden Eagles program as a whole.
“There’s a different feel around our program now, it’s exciting,” Mason said. “In the last four days we’ve had 12 boys who haven’t played in the last two, three, four years all call and want to be a part of this program. It’s contagious, that’s how I would describe it.
“The guys that are out here they’re into it and having fun. Instead of coming out here and going through their regular drills, they’re here getting in good shape, it’s just a change of pace. Tomorrow night we’ll get back to our normal conditioning.”
Championships come through hard work, the Madison-Plains High School coaching staff knows this and is trying its best to show the Golden Eagles players this too. Not just by bringing in hard-working Marines to instill some mental toughness and push the players, but by working as hard as they possibly can as well.
“(The Marines) are great, what better role models to come out here and work with our guys and show us how to do it?” Mason said. “The boys are into it, the contagious part is the boys believe they’re going to contend this year and they’re going to work hard for it. If they come out and give their full effort, we can’t ask for anything else. They’ve bought into Jason (Hunt) and see how hard he and his staff work, they’re here every night putting in the time and effort and the boys want to do to the same thing.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.