No summer off season for student athletes
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For most students, summer is a time to relax and hang out with friends. However, at Townsend Harris, many use their two months of vacation not only to serve their community and study for standardized tests, but also to get a head start for the upcoming athletic season.
“I train on my own during the summer because I always feel the need to improve,” said senior soccer captain Paula Fraczek.
Her words reflect the motivation that many other athletes at THHS have.
These athletes feel they have a responsibility to their team not only during the regular season, but also during the offseason.
Sophomore Thomas Chu trained for handball this summer. “My motivation to play was a starting position that was within reach, and all I needed to do to obtain that position was to continuously practice,” he said.
Junior Matthew Sullivan, an active member of the boys track and field team, also felt it was imperative to improve for his position. About his training, he said: “The need to step into my position on the varsity team and help out my team in any way possible was what fueled my desire to run over the summer.”
For these athletes, summer training required a lot of work. “I trained four to five times a week at Jones beach, running five to seven miles a day,” Matthew said.
“I had to face the daily heat and wind, as well as the recurring pain in my ankle. I learned hard work pays off and even with the heat, if you push through you’ll feel great in the end.”
Junior Yasmeen Ally also chose to train over the summer after realizing the importance of summer training, saying.
She said: “The previous summer I failed to continue my summer training, causing my times to improve by merely a second or three during indoor and outdoor. After realizing the importance of summer training, I was more motivated to maintain my stamina and endurance built up from the previous seasons and let it pass over to the upcoming cross country season.”
Due to this, she enrolled in two summer training programs. She attended Winged Foot Cross Country Camp this summer in Nassau, New York, as well as New York Road Runners High School Camp.
At New York Road Runners, she and fellow campers met for three hours and alternated between running at Central Park and Van Cortlandt Park.
At Winged Foot, the training was more demanding. It was a six day cross country camp.“We’d wake up at 6:30 a.m. for our morning run at 7:30 a.m. We also had an evening run at 4:30 p.m.”
However, it wasn’t only returning athletes who felt the same responsibility to spend the summer training for the upcoming season.
Incoming freshman Sean Wong attended St. John’s basketball camp from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to start training for the Boys Varsity Basketball team, a winter sport.
At camp, he endured rigorous drills in the early hours and played competitive games in the afternoon hours.
“I know the road ahead will be tough and making the team will be equally tough, but I’ll be motivated to work harder if I don’t make it this year,” he said.
With the plethora of Varsity Sports THHS has to offer, these highly motivated athletes all trained differently over the course of the summer.
Of course, you don’t need to go to camp to be surrounded by highly motivated individuals.
“I train with my friends over the summer so motivation is never an issue, and it’s also a great way to bond,” said Paula.
Though they stay true to their academic commitments, these students must also uphold their academic responsibilities.
“Balancing SAT studying and summer volunteering is an ongoing conflict during summer schedules but the Townsend environment already taught us how to do so,” said Yasmeen.
Thomas’s parents restricted the amount of practice he could do per week as he had to focus on SAT preparation.
“I spent the summer self-studying for the SATs. However, my passion for handball only grew this summer, and I will continue to play and practice every day even with the academic year,” said Thomas.
“Training really does pay off and you see your confidence in your athletic ability improve dramatically and everyone takes notice of it. My passion for soccer and my love of being on the team have increased to an unimaginable level,” said Paula.
It’s determination like this that gives these athletes a head start for the season and a head start to the academic year with their improved time management skills.
“It truly sets the foundation for your upcoming seasons. The greater you work towards your goal, the further you improve, and the greater you contribute to your team,” said Yasmeen.