MT. VERNON —
The yearly sports cycle might have just ended for schools but some teams are already looking ahead.
Mt. Vernon's football team is about a week into their summer workout program. Football players meet twice a day – morning or night – several times a week. Under the direction of coach Jared Shaner and other assistant coaches, the players work on strengthening themselves with weight work and conditioning.
During the initial three weeks of June, Shaner and his team will not use any of its contact days. Those will come later in the summer.
“We're not doing any Xs and Os stuff,” he said. “We're just lifting and conditioning, footwork, agility. That type of stuff.”
With no time spent on football tactics, Shaner said the summer is a good time to focus on reminding the players of the values and ethics associated with the Rams program.
“We spend a lot of time talking to the kids about that,” Shaner said. “I think it's really important as coaches that we're not just football coaches but mentors and try to teach them some things about life and how to be a productive human being and citizen.”
Shaner said the summer work is critical for players who are thinking about making an impact during the fall football season that is just a couple months away.
“Basically I tell kids, unless it's a unique circumstance, if you don't come and put in effort in the summer you're probably going to be disappointed in the fall,” Shaner said.
The coach added that he's pleased with the participation from players - young and old.
“It's early in the summer, I've never had this strong of participation,” Shaner said. “In week one, the lowest number we had in a day was 76 and the highest number was 86 or 87. And I really think when we get into the season, I think we'll start the season with 95 kids or so.
“The kids have made a really great commitment so far this summer.”
Shaner added that it's typical for numbers to decline some as the hotter days of the summer arrive. Then as the school year gets closer and the team's camp starts the participation goes up again.
“My goal and my hope is that we stay consistent all summer and so far the kids have really shown that they've been committed and want to do that,” Shaner said.
There has been some inconsistency from the number of incoming freshmen players, but he said that some are getting adjusted to the high school sports routine.
“I really have to say what a great job most of them have done,” Shaner said. “They come in and do some things they haven't done, and it hurts to get out of bed for a couple of days. Now into week two a lot of those kids the soreness is kind of out them, and they're getting excited to come back and get stronger and keep working.”
Traditionally, the Rams hold a Meet the Team night in mid-August a week before their opening game.