As the bitter weather consumes the football turfs, soccer pitches, and field hockey fields, the sports world turns its attention to winter sports. The three-month winter season kicked off as early as November 11th for some teams, while others waited to begin their journeys. While each team undergoes rigorous preseason training, every coach and sport has a unique focus behind their preparations, and these points of emphasis are crucial to success in game situations.
For a basketball team trying to recreate itself without the 2014 senior class, the preseason has become key to their readiness to play as a unit. For a team trying to change its identity from the Juwan Harrison-led 2014 Knights, the preseason becomes a two-week plastic surgery procedure: “Much of the focus will be put on defense,” coach Tim Stevens admitted. “We would like to be able to pressure our opponents at all times, which will lead to a much more exciting game.”
To prepare for this new brand of basketball, the team must get ready physically and mentally. The press they plan to run requires speed and stamina, something that the players will have to build up in the weeks prior to the season. The players also need a flurry of repetitions on the defensive press system, to make sure they minimize structural breakdowns when they run the press in games.
While the basketball preseason emphasizes systematic concepts, individual sports like fencing focus more on technique of the game. The process starts during the four days of tryouts, where coach Gail Kedoin evaluates fencers’ strengths and weaknesses technique-wise. Once cuts are made, Kedoin often has fencers switch weapons based on physical attributes she notices in tryouts. “I look at a lot of different qualities. Each weapon has different rules, different ways of scoring, and different technique overall.”
Even in a sport like fencing, conditioning is key to survival, especially in the eight all-day tournaments that North competes in. “Conditioning is important so that, six hours into the tournament, you still have enough energy to compete and remain effective,” Kedoin explained.
On the wrestling mat, matches are often won and lost not during winter preseason, but during offseason preparation. “Summer wrestling is a very popular tactic I use to increase the success of wrestlers in the season,” new head coach Edward Ferraro said. “A wrestler who commits to a summer practice regimen can get approximately a season and a half of wrestling in the summer.” Since it’s only his first year in the program, Ferraro said he isn’t sure how much each wrestler has done. “I know at least a few were in camps, but my goal for the future will be 100% attendance in pre-season wrestling.” With wrestlers having to compete in five to six matches on a weekend, both stamina and strength will be key.
The training these athletes undergo is grueling, but vital for success when representing high school north this winter.
Our own Liam Knox took a crack at some workouts, and found out what life was really like as a North athlete.