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SCV sports in the summer

Athletes use different methods for staying sharp during the school break

Posted: July 24, 2013 8:58 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2013 8:58 p.m.

Canyon High runners start off on their twice weekly evening run from Lost Canyon Road in Canyon Country on Wednesday.

 

From a competition standpoint, high school sports seasons only last a few months.

But great teams and athletes are built when no one is looking.

The sweat and anguish exerted during the summer can often make a big difference when players suit up for their school teams.

It’s not as if there’s a one-size-fits-all approach, though.

Each sport varies in the amount of individual versus team practicing throughout a given year.

Cross country is one of the few sports in the Santa Clarita Valley outside of the major ones (football, basketball and baseball) where most teams spend nearly the entire offseason together.

In the spring, most runners compete in track and field. And from there, it’s straight into summer workouts.

That usually means either getting up at the crack of dawn to run or doing so in the evening to avoid the extreme midday temperatures.

Most local teams are running together in some form throughout the summer, and that includes a week or two of high-altitude training at either Mammoth or Big Bear.

This time of year, it’s more about spending time together as a team than it is about competing.

“We don’t really encourage them to do a lot of competition,” said Canyon cross country and track and field head coach Paul Broneer. “It’s mainly getting stronger and working on their technique a little bit and having fun.”

With other sports, like volleyball, soccer and tennis, high school coaches have a limited time to work with teams in their entirety due to the ever-increasing existence of club and travel teams.

In many cases, the individual competitions are the ones where athletes get maximum exposure to college recruiters, hence the increase in popularity.

“A majority of high school players are playing club at least at some level,” said ninth-year Saugus boys soccer head coach Seth Groller. “There used to be not many club teams, so it was just the most elite players who were playing club, but now there are so many club teams that it’s been a little bit diluted.”

Some of the more popular clubs for locals include SCV Magic, Select Cities Soccer Club and L.A. Premier.

Outside of the club season, Groller also held a one-month summer camp for the Saugus players in June, which he said is a common practice with high school teams in the area.

It’s a similar system for girls volleyball, where most players compete in club season in the spring and summer before the high school teams come back together in July.

At this stage in the game, it’s not as much about technical training as much as it is about team building, according to Valencia girls volleyball head coach Ray Sanchez.

“We try to keep it pretty low key in the summertime,” Sanchez said. “We’re just trying to get touches and it’s really about forming those bonds that you need on a team.”

It’s much of the same for prep tennis players, who are encouraged to work out individually and compete in Unites States Tennis Association tournaments for much of the offseason.

Yet, many local high school teams hold camps and various training sessions to supplement the solo work.

“The only difference really during season is we play more matches to earn starting spots,” said Valencia varsity tennis player Lindsey Wolf. “Outside of season, it’s more self improvement and what can I do to get better for next year.”

But there are other sports which are even more individual-based, like golf and swimming.

Boys and girls golfers are essentially on their own during the summer months. They have the option of playing various junior tournaments with organizations like the American Junior Golf Association or the Southern California Professional Golfers’ Association.

Those tournaments are key, some say, to improving the necessary skills needed to play at the next level.

“Playing those tournaments really give me good exposure on how to handle pressure and how to handle different shots under different circumstances as opposed to just playing at the home course,” said West Ranch golfer Jason Del Rosario.

In addition to the tournaments, Del Rosario said he also hits golf balls and works on his game at nearby golf courses on a daily basis.

This all happens outside of the realm of the West Ranch team and coaching staff.

In the case of swimming, there is very little activity with the high school teams outside of the spring season.

Some swimmers participated in club competition, most of which is with the locally-based Canyons Aquatic Club.

“Everybody kind of does their own thing and that’s what makes swimming such an interesting sport,” said former Valencia swim head coach Mike Bechtholdt, who also coaches at Canyons Aquatic. “All the kids that are competing against each other during the school year are actually competing on the same team (during the summer).”

Bechtholdt did mention, however, that good high school teams can be made up of a combination of club and non-club swimmers.

No matter what path an athlete takes in the offseason, there still exists the endearing tradition of representing a hometown high school team in a given sport.

Despite all the potential advantages of individual competition, there’s something about the high school team aspect that keeps athletes coming back year after year.

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