Training through uncertainty

Dylan Buckner, Sports Editor

Ever since freshman Griffin Yoss was in seventh grade, he hoped to play varsity soccer as a sophomore. While watching varsity games, Yoss would look for common mistakes players were making, especially those playing his position, and then adjust his training to avoid those errors.

In a phone interview, Yoss said the stay-at-home order has moved his training for the upcoming Glenbrook North summer soccer camp to his house, where he completes cone drills and juggles his soccer ball, typically five days a week. After playing a year ahead on his club soccer team for both eighth grade and freshman year, Yoss feels he is prepared for the varsity level. Because of the shortening and potential cancellation of the summer camps due to COVID-19, Yoss worries he will not be able to show varsity coaches he is ready to play at that level.

On May 8, superintendent Charles Johns sent an email saying all summer athletic camps have been canceled for the month of June as a result of guidance from the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health. This means many sports may have their summer training camp shortened or canceled. 

Paul Vignocchi, head boys soccer coach, said in a phone interview that although the stay-at-home order is a challenge, one thing that he thinks athletes are great at is dealing with and overcoming adversity.

Vignocchi wants his soccer players to remain active by simply going on a run, taking a bike ride or kicking a soccer ball against a wall, so that once players and coaches get back together, everyone is prepared, he said.

In addition to video tutorials of drills and game scenarios, the coaching staff has developed a curriculum of playing principles that can fit into the formation the team decides to use.

Assistant Soccer Coach Paul Gibbs said in a phone interview that he is confident he can condense this curriculum to fit a shorter preparation time frame in the summer.

“We might just have to go longer sessions … where we just have to manage the workloads of the players and make sure that we are not burning them out,” Gibbs said.

Tiffany Kim, head girls volleyball coach, said in a phone interview that summer camp is a nice way for the players to get to know one another and bond as a team. Players learn common drills and fundamentals so there is no wasted time once the fall starts.

Kim feels longer practices are not the answer to a shortened summer camp schedule, as they increase the risk of injury and decrease focus, she said. Regardless of the start date, Kim’s message to the team will remain the same.

“Let’s just work, let’s do what we can and make the best of every moment,” Kim said.

Girls Swim Coach Jarod Schroeder said in a phone interview that swimmers can be preparing for the fall season by going on runs, doing core work and performing bodyweight exercises to contribute to their strength and conditioning.

In the event that summer swimming camp is postponed further, Schroeder said the practices once back together would have to increase in both length and intensity in order to get the swimmers in shape faster.

“It’s not ideal and it’s not fun … I would just try to explain to the athletes, this is what we need to do given the situation,” said Schroeder. “If we’re going to be successful in November at state, we’ve got to get into shape quickly.”

Sophomore Nya Robinson said in a phone interview that limited access to a pool will not hold swimmers back as long as they are staying in shape on their own. Robinson has been doing a combination of cardio and weight lifting, specifically targeting her upper body mobility to improve her stroke movements in the water.

In a phone interview, sophomore Kamila Nowak said she had not traditionally used running for swim training, however COVID-19 guidelines have forced her to adopt this new method of training.

“I’m getting used to it because there’s really no other options,” Nowak said.

Nowak feels a shorter summer camp could potentially affect underclassmen as they will not be able to receive the same amount of coaching as they would in a regular summer, she said.

Entering his 17th year of coaching soccer, Vignocchi said he feels that if necessary, tryouts are enough for him to identify which underclassmen can play at the varsity level without the added evaluation time in the summer. 

In addition to tryouts, Yoss said another vital aspect of summer training camp is in-person coach-to-player feedback. In the summer, the coaches talk with players on what they can specifically improve on. Without that interaction, Yoss worries he would not know what aspects of his game need the most improvement.

Even with the uncertainty around COVID-19 and fall sports, Yoss said he will continue his preparation.

“Regardless of the situation, I think I just need to continue to train and prepare so that … I’m ready whenever I need to prove myself or showcase my abilities,” Yoss said.