Work hard, play hard: Sports at the extremes

Hannah Teerman, Entertainment Editor

Coaches want their athletes to succeed. It involves hours of practice and hard work, or ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ as some people may say. The coaches at Portage Northern push their athletes as hard as they are able. “It’s part of preparing them to play at the highest level possible,” said Ryan Beadle (10). Beadle was a member of Northern’s Football Program this year and even moved up to the varsity team during the season. Coaches push student-athletes like Beadle to their limits and test them mentally and physically, but some people do not understand how much they go through to play or participate.

“Mentally, running the races themselves is challenging with having to keep a good pace and all that,” said Alex Kulpa (12) and Mack Evans (12). When it comes to conditioning for cross country, they run anything from sprints to miles, with usually three workouts a week, depending on how many races they are going to be running at the upcoming meet. The runners do workouts called intervals once in a while. “I remember one day I ran 16-400’s,” said Alexa VanderHoff (10), which means they did sprint after sprint after sprint basically sixteen times around a track. It emphasizes how the team is pretty tolerant and has quite a bit of endurance.

Football is one of the major sports at Northern. Training starts over the summer with two-a-days for a week or two, but they usually are fun for the players because it is football, after all. It is not too intense because the days are so long. There is always that one dreadful moment when a coach tells the players to get on the line. “It’s mostly sprints. And it’s harder at the beginning of the year, but it gets easier,” said Beadle. But they have to do what they have to do to play as well as they do, even if it is not fun.

Likewise, wrestling takes a lot of strength, mentally and physically. Their conditioning most definitely is not easy, but it is good for them and makes them better athletes. The sport has different weight classes, so they take body tests at the beginning of the season, and it tells them how much weight they can lose in a particular amount of time, which they lose by wearing sweats while practicing in the already hot wrestling room and eating less. It can take a toll on the body, and they can get sick and may not be able to wrestle as well if they do it in an unhealthy way. “The wrestling room can get really hot, but it’s good for preventing injuries,” said Alex Wojewoda (10). It is a quite physically demanding sport, and the athletes’ hard work shows at the meets.

In addition, with everyday, mandatory dry land and pool practices, the swim team goes through quite a bit. They even have morning practices the days of meets. It is one of those sports that uses all of the muscles and can leave the team sore. One of the sets they do is called a lactate set. It consists of several swimming sprints and them swimming as fast as they can for a certain amount of laps, then resting, and then repeating. Northern’s swim team is successful, and they have to work hard for it.

Portage Northern’s sports teams challenge themselves at every practice and game or meet, which makes them successful. Although the athletes are tested push themselves to the limits, they know it is good for them in order for them to reach their full potential. “None of us really like it, but we all understand it’s a necessary part of preparing us. It makes it so come game time, you can play at your highest level for the whole game,” said Beadle.