It’s 8 a.m. on a sweltering Tuesday morning at Male High School. On the football practice field at the back edge of campus there are no cheerleaders, no scoreboard, and no public address announcer barking out the names of playmakers. In fact, there isn’t even a football in sight as the June sun burns away the morning dew.
All you will find on this day is Bulldogs strength and conditioning coach Paul Mandeville, three aspiring college athletes and a 125-pound sled.
“This is the part of football no one sees,” says Mandeville, a former standout receiver at Campbellsville. “Muscle failure is the name of the game today,” he adds, only half-kidding.
Foremost among his summer pupils is Lorentez Barbour. The recent Male graduate was an All-District defensive back last season and is due to report to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. on June 28. The Midshipmen open their season against Notre Dame in Dublin on Sept. 1 and Barbour hopes to deplane in Ireland as a starting safety.
Meantime, there is work to do, and after a brief warm-up, Mandeville summons Barbour to the power sled. A flat slab of welded steel with nylon straps, the sled is weighed down with four 25-pound plates and looks more like a farm implement than a tool for building speed and endurance.
Mandeville blows a whistle and Barbour explodes in a backward sprint, dragging the sled behind.
“Go, go, go, go, go,” yells Mandeville as Barbour treads and grunts his way from one sideline to the other and back.
30 seconds down, two months to go.
Sled pulls are just one element of the five-days-a-week workout plan that Mandeville devised to prep Barbour for the Academy.
They are not alone. Throughout the city, with no fanfare or bright lights, scores of athletes are putting in the hours necessary to elevate their games and lay the groundwork for next season.
This week The High School Sports Report takes a look at the summer workout regimens of Barbour and two other recent graduates who are gearing up for the next level.
- High School: Male
- Sport: Football
- Bona fides: All-District defensive back in 2011 with 66 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception; top-10 finisher in long jump (10th, 20-5.5), triple jump (7th, 42-5.75) and high jump (5th, 6-0) at the 3A state track meet in May.
- College: Navy
While the beginning of football pre-season looms in August, Barbour must first get through the Naval Academy’s Plebe Summer, which begins with Induction Day on June 28.
This rigorous seven-week program for first-year midshipmen, or plebes, includes strenuous calisthenics, hand-to-hand training, obstacle and endurance courses, as well as long distance runs and sprint training.
Barbour has taken a varied approach in his last weeks at home. “We usually mix it up and do different stuff,” he said. “A lot of stop-and-go and quick reaction stuff.”
A typical speed workout might include a series of 110-yard sprints (in 16 seconds or less), 300-yard shuttles in 50-yard increments (56 seconds) and 200-yard shuttles while holding a 25-pound plate (45 seconds). Work with a reaction ball and cone footwork drills top off the session.
In addition, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder spends two to three hours a week in the weight room, where Olympic lifts make up the majority of the exercises. Recently, Mandeville incorporated a circuit of eight bench presses with each bench carrying a different weight between 70 and 185 pounds.
With so much on the horizon, does Barbour ever get nervous?
“Not so much,” he said. “The way I see it there’s a thousand other people that are going and there’s thousands of people who’ve been through it.”
- High School: Collegiate
- Sport: Field Hockey
- Bona fides: 2011 Miss Field Hockey; four-time First Team All-State selection; 100 career goals; Academic All-American; 22 varsity letters—field hockey (4), lacrosse (5), swimming (6), track (2) and cross-country (5).
- College: Michigan State
One of the stated goals in the Michigan State field hockey summer fitness packet is for the Spartans to be “the fittest team on the planet.”
Fanciful though this ambition may be, Mallory Tyler intends to arrive in East Lansing prepared for the pursuit.
In an average week, the Collegiate graduate takes on two days of interval training, two days of cross-training and a fifth day devoted to fartlek runs. Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a form of training in which a runner alternates between an intensive pace and a slower recovery pace.
Tyler, a forward, said the runs replicate well the light-switch nature of her position and have become a favorite early evening workout.
“I like running at night because it’s generally colder and it’s quiet. It’s kind of peaceful and I get to clear my mind,” she said.
Even for a five-sport athlete, the first sight of her summer workout schedule was flooring.
“I was pretty overwhelmed,” Tyler said. “I figured it would be a lot of running and I like it because it pushes me and I like being challenged.”
Tyler has been accepted into the prestigious Honors College at Michigan State and will report in early July to take a summer school course in art history and begin working out with her new teammates.
- High School: Kentucky Country Day
- Sport: Basketball
- Bona fides: Honorable Mention All-State; First Team All-7th Region; averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds in 2011-12.
- College: Centre
For nearly a year, Blake Scinta has been working with personal trainer Greg Fredrick at the Louisville Sports Performance Institute, and this summer the two have implemented exercises recommended by the basketball staff at Centre.
“I can tell I’ve been jumping higher. I feel stronger,” said Scinta, who works with Fredrick three days a week. “My shot comes easier and I don’t get fatigued as easily.”
The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward has a skill set that allows him to step out on the perimeter and workouts are tailored to maintain that mobility while also helping him add the weight necessary to be effective on the block in college.
“I know that if I don’t work out and train almost every day that when I get to Centre, it’s going to be ugly,” said Scinta, who has gained 12 pounds since February and is looking to add 10-15 more.
The first workout session of the week includes both upper and lower body exercises, followed by a day of legs only and a third day of strictly upper body work. Speed and agility exercises, including ladder footwork and cone drills, supplement each workout.
In addition to his time in the weight room, Scinta is on the hardwood at KCD six days a week for 90-minute shooting sessions.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.