/ Articles / Spring sports’ coaches keep athletes ready
The sprint sports’ season is currently suspended because of COVID-19 with coaches unable to work together as a team and set practices. So what do they do now? Here is what the Lakeland spring sports’ coaches are doing.
The golf team, coached by Scott Howard, looked forward to potentially going to state for the third year in a row. Last season they finished as the state runner-up.
The hard part for golf is getting practice reps in. Athletes need to be on a course putting, chipping and using their irons in different situations. Since no golf courses are open, athletes are subject to doing what they can at home.
“There’s no golf courses open due to this pandemic, no gyms open,” Howard said. “You need to be able to get on a real practice green, a real range off of grass, chipping and putting around the practice green.”
Last season, lots of snow prevented the team from getting on the course. Now, that looks like a much better situation.
“Last year was tough under quite a bit of snow,” Howard said.
In the meantime, the golfers will continue to hold out hope that there will be a season.
“I’ve talked to a good number of the players yesterday,” Howard said. “Everybody is positive, upbeat and hopeful.”
The girls’ soccer team was looking forward to building off of last season when they finished 9-9-1 overall.
Coach Stephanie Hartzheim has given the girls a number of different workouts they can do at home, making sure they are ready should the spring sports start up.
“I continue to encourage the players to keep working out at home. We have workout programs for the students to use,” she said. “I have also sent different types of at-home soccer ball touch drills.”
One of the most important aspects to the game of soccer is conditioning. Staying in shape during this time will be key.
“I encourage them to make it more realistic like soccer by conditioning by walking, jogging and sprinting for a certain time frame,” Hartzheim said. “This helps them build up to what they would be doing in a soccer game.”
Most of all, Hartzheim misses her team and looks forward to returning to the field.
“The girls put in a ton of time and effort off season to prepare,” she said. “It is hard to not be able to see the girls out on the soccer field where we all love to be. I definitely miss the girls and their goofy personalities.”
The softball team, led by coach Jason Morris, finished 10-13 overall last season.
Like the other teams, the softball team has to work from home. They can play catch and hit around a little bit, but it can be challenging without the right equipment.
“I can encourage captains to get people together to play catch and hit around,” Morris said. “I feel bad for the girls, feel bad for the seniors. It’s a difficult situation.”
Equipment like batting cages and other equipment from the school are not allowed. The athletes are not allowed to practice or train on school grounds. That goes for all spring sports’ athletes, not just softball.
“(We’re) not allowed to utilize school property, school grounds for any participation whatever,” Morris said.
If there is a season, Morris will make sure it is an enjoyable one, where the girls can see each other and have fun.
“Let’s make sure we enjoy it and have fun and probably keep it a little bit lighter than a full season,” he said. “I think the girls would be excited to get back to see each other.”
The boys’ tennis team finished 2-8 last season and looked forward to coming back to the courts led by coach Ted Dasler.
Tennis is a little bit easier to do at home. The athletes have been sent some videos to do some drills at home with their tennis ball and racket.
“There are things that they can do with a racket and a tennis ball,” Dasler said. “Drills that help keep their agility and hand-eye coordination.”
Something fun the tennis team can look to is professional tennis player Roger Federer. He has proposed a challenge of sorts that everyone can do.
“(Roger Federer) put out a wall challenge, getting close to the wall and bounce the ball against the air and see how many times you can do it,” Dasler said.
At the end of the day, Dasler wants his team to stay in the present and stay positive.
“I encourage kids to think in the present and stay focus on what you can do now and let the future take care of itself,” he said.
Track and field
Unlike the golf, girls’ soccer, boys’ tennis and softball teams, the track and field season had officially gotten underway on March 9. Teams were meeting together at school and practicing. Since Lakeland was on spring break, new coach Gordy Drewsen had yet to meet everyone.
“I just kind of check-in to see who’s all doing what,” she said. “A lot of these kids I haven’t even seen.”
Drewsen has focused on keeping her athletes in shape, giving them workouts they can do on their own. The throw and strength coaches are doing something similarly.
“(I give) weekly workouts online and I get feedback on how they’re doing and make modifications,” she said. “The strength training and the throws’ coach is doing a lot of YouTube stuff.”
The nice thing about track is that a lot of them can train and run on their own. Sports like softball, baseball and golf require equipment and/or a field. The track athletes that get hit the most are pole vaulters and throwers.
“It’s harder for the pole vaulters and throwers who were coming in that first week and I think it’s harder for those events than my group which is a distance group,” Drewsen said.
For baseball, Randy Quade takes over as head coach for Mike Wilhelm. For the story on Quade and the baseball team, check out the April 17 edition of The Times.