New system meant to encourage off-season work

Claire Conover, sports editor

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John Biehler
Positioning himself in the squat rack, sophomore Reece Eberhart prepares to squat in his second block weights class with coach Dan Adelhardt. Attending weights class in one way to earn more points, which are to encourage athletes to do off-season work. For a video about weights class, see our instagram account @kmccrusade.

Athletes at Kapaun Mt. Carmel are being introduced to a new part of tryouts – a system that encourages an athlete to earn a certain number of points to be able to make a varsity team.

“It’s a tool that encourages off-season work, so the kids are either in the weight room or working on their specific sport outside of the season,” said assistant boys basketball coach Will Hiebert, who is in charge of recording the data. “Individuals get better during the off-season and teams get better during the season, so this is a tool to help motivate that participation.”

The inspiration for the system came from a football program at a school in California.

“They have had incredible results with it,” said girls basketball coach Billy Graf. “They have had it in place for a few years at least. They’ve got all the kinks worked out and I think they just do it for the football program.”

Sophomore Grant Johnson and junior Jackson Bezdek, who are both on the basketball team, said the points system is a good idea because it encourages athletes who do not usually come to the off-season workouts to show up and put in effort.

“[Athletic Director John] Cherne saw that a lot of people were not showing up to the off-season practices, and it affected how many teams were playing,” Johnson said.

Cherne declined to comment, but senior Maggie Koster, who plays soccer, agrees the system is a good idea.

“I think it is a good system, especially for soccer, because it gets a lot of people out for the pre-season and we can kind of get a feel for who all is going to be there and kind of start building team chemistry,” Koster said.

Koster said the system is a little bit intense because there are so many new responsibilities.

“If you don’t go to winter conditioning then you won’t get enough points,” Koster said. “This year, we are also adding points for academics as well. So, if you want to go to varsity and you don’t want to run at tryouts then you need to stay on top of it. So, there is no slacking.”

Some athletes and coaches, however, said the system is not organized well.

“I think every coach is on a different level of how in they are on it, and I think that causes problems in terms of what is required,” Hiebert said.

Bezdek believes the points system could be improved if the coaches were more strict about enforcing the rules.

“I would make it more enforced to make us actually [go to weights], and also giving us a little leeway because I know for summer weights we can miss four or five and still be OK,” Bezdek said. “I wish they would lay it out for us and not just make it up as they go.”

Since the points system is new to KMC, Graf said he is not sure what it is going to be like after they make changes and improvements to it.

“It’s new so we don’t know exactly how it is going to turn out to be, but I think that it has worked for girls basketball,” Graf said. “It is in its infancy.”

KSHAA is very strict about what can and cannot be required from athletes out of season, but Graf emphasizes that it is optional.

“We talk about accountability with the girls,” Graf said. “That is one of our themes for this season–being accountable to each other and to themselves. It makes the kids understand the importance of showing up and doing the work.

Graf says that to get better at something, you have to put in the work and have to want to become better at it. He believes the system is helping the athletes become the best they can be.

“They (the athletes) have to come to practice and work on their stuff year-round to get as good as they can get at it,” Graf said. “As Catholics, we are called to be the best at out gifts. God wants us to become the best that we can be at whatever we decide to do. Working in the off-season and during the season is how you are going to become that.”

Graf said one example of this progression is senior Stacey Le, who is on the varsity girls basketball team.

“Stacey Le is a 1,000 percent different basketball player because of the time she put in during the summer,” Graf said. “Anybody that has watched us last year and not just this year say ‘who is Stacey Le?’ It is because Stacey Le killed it in the summer-time. Stacey Le is proof that showing up and working hard pays off.”

The points system also encourages the athletes to play other sports during the fall, winter, spring and summer, Graf said.

“It is also designed to encourage kids to play all the sports,” Graf said. “So, girls who played volleyball can say ‘well I don’t have to go to summer weights, I can go play volleyball instead.’ We are a middle-of-the-pack 5A school. I need the best athletes to play basketball, and volleyball needs to best athletes to play volleyball. I encourage my girls to play volleyball in the fall, and golf and run cross-country in the summer. And, in the spring, I want them to play soccer, and I want them to run track and play softball.”

Koster believes the system will continue it next year because it has been working so well for the teams this year.

“I think it ups the commitment level and it makes you realize this is for real,” Koster said. “We want to do well and we have to start doing well earlier in order for us to do better in the season.”