Athletes fueling camp success

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  • Marble Falls summer campers have flocked to Mustang Stadium since June 8 to participate in athletic training and individual sport drills. On June 23, seventh through ninth graders ran cone agility drills (left) and spent 30 minutes in the weight room (below) preparing for fall sports. Photos by Nathan Hendrix/The Highlander
    Marble Falls summer campers have flocked to Mustang Stadium since June 8 to participate in athletic training and individual sport drills. On June 23, seventh through ninth graders ran cone agility drills (left) and spent 30 minutes in the weight room (below) preparing for fall sports. Photos by Nathan Hendrix/The Highlander
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  • MFISD coaches from all sports and all levels showed up to the Mustang Athletic Camp to assist students in improving their physical conditioning. Due to the number of participants and UIL guidelines, the level of coach participation increased dramatically this year. Photos by Nathan Hendrix/The Highlander
    MFISD coaches from all sports and all levels showed up to the Mustang Athletic Camp to assist students in improving their physical conditioning. Due to the number of participants and UIL guidelines, the level of coach participation increased dramatically this year. Photos by Nathan Hendrix/The Highlander
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After a spring of web-based learning and individual workouts at home, Marble Falls students appeared ready to reunite with coaches and get to work.

Mustangs head football coach Brian Herman said the extended break from sports created by the COVID-19 pandemic and UIL suspensions felt like summer without training camps. Now that actual summer has arrived and restrictions have eased, “second summer” is off to a hot start for Mustangs athletics.

“It felt so much longer than usual because we didn’t have the kids through the spring,” he said. “That time when we weren’t allowed to work with them was torturous, to be honest.

“Our job, our livelihood, our joy is working with kids,” he added.

On June 8, the first day of the 2020 Mustang Athletic Camp (MAC), Marble Falls Independent School District coaches and organizers found themselves with more young athletes than anticipated. Through June 24, the third week of the camp, participation has remained high, which has forced coaches to adapt their original plan.

Re-organizing the format of camp to accommodate so many students while staying in the safety parameters issued by UIL was worth the work.

“It’s not ideal,” Herman said. “It’s not exactly what we want to do, but it feels good to be able to do something.”

At MAC, students are broken down into two sections: seventh, eighth and ninth graders and sophomores, juniors and seniors. On top of numbers limits, coaches have several other requirements to follow including keeping athletes six feet apart when possible and sanitation of equipment between sets.

The athletes spend 90 minutes rotating between three sessions at Marble Falls High School – 30 minutes in the weight room, 30 minutes on the field at Mustang Stadium for agility and speed training and 30 minutes at a more relaxed station doing stretching and hydration.

“We’ve received good feedback,” Herman said. “The kids seem to be enjoying it.”

Students can also spend up to an hour with specific sports coaches working on their skills. Head basketball coach Travis Crain has been conducting basketball drills with some of his players.

“It’s been a weird time for everybody,” he said. “Everyone came back, and you could tell they’ve been working out. I think the kids really have an appetite for getting back to work.”

During the school year, coaches continued to stay in contact with their athletes. Football offensive and defensive coaches worked with students via video teleconference and web-based learning platforms to review the playbook and discuss individual training.

Crain said he used the time as film study.

“I tried to reach my players using every channel I could,” he said. “I would pull up varsity games from last year, break them down and highlight specific things we wanted to correct.”

This year has been an adjustment for coaches, teachers, administrators and students, but Herman said he and his staff will take the positives from the experience.

“I think we’ve discovered some new methods of teaching,” he said. “We can utilize some of these practices going forward.”

MAC is held at Mustang Stadium Monday through Friday and will continue through July. The camp will be closed July 6 through 10 as an extension of the UIL’s required closure days of July 6 and 7.

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