There’s just no getting around it.
Strength and athleticism play a critical role in football. This is no revelation, of course, and so it’s no surprise the Camel football team has been hard at work in the weight room all summer.
There’s not much idle chatter, at least not most mornings. Wilkerson opens the door to the weight room at 6 a.m. and the summer lifters are divided into two groups, about 20 in each. The first group comes in at 6 a.m. and the second at 7 a.m. The lifters work out Monday through Thursday each week.
The sessions ultimately may determine whether they reach the varsity squad or earning a starting spot on the 2012 team. So a lot is at stake.
“Pretty much the foundation of a good football program is commitment in the weight room,” said coach Vic Wilkerson, looking on as a group of about 20 players went about their daily lifting regimen Monday at the CCHS South Campus. “That’s how you get bigger, faster and stronger.”
There’s plenty of evidence to support Wilkerson’s claim.
The weight room is an eclectic mixture of bulky upperclassmen looking for that extra edge to help them once the season starts and lean, incoming sophomores, who would just like to see their names etched on the varsity roster.
“You don’t do this and you’re pretty much screwed for the beginning of the year,” senior Zach Tolzien said.
Tolzien, 17, is one of a number of upperclassmen who swear by off-season weight training.
Just a few weeks absence from the lifting sessions can result in serious strength loss, something an experienced Camel vying for a starting spot can’t afford.
By the same token, putting in hours of time over the last few years makes all the difference.
Incoming senior Taylor Barbour, who is among the biggest lifters on the team, has only missed five days of the voluntary workout session over the last three years.
The lineman has upped his squat to 480 pounds, an increase from about 310 as a sophomore.
“Getting out of bed is the hardest part,” he said.
Walker Newell, 15, has added 40 pounds to his frame since last March. He’s still growing, but part of the weight, he hopes, is muscle.
The sophomore has noticed substantial gains in his bench press and squat, which is a good sign.
Similarly, Zach Salyer has seen some strength improvements recently. But like Newell, he knows he has a way to go until he can hang with the incoming seniors.
“You know they’ve been there for a while and you’re going to work up to that level in a little bit,” Salyer said.
A bonus to the summer lifting program is the camaraderie.
The morning sessions are an excellent opportunity to work in pairs and develop a greater familiarity with teammates.
“You get faster, better, stronger and you get to know your teammates better,” Newell said.
As strange as it seems, the players are running out of time before preseason practices start again.
The first day of practice is Aug. 6, a week earlier than a year ago. The Gillette football camp also is scheduled July 16-18 for players in grades 3-12.
Gillette will hold two-a-days on Aug. 6, Aug. 8 and Aug. 10, and single sessions on Aug. 7 and Aug. 9. That schedule also will continue through Aug. 13-17.
The Camels’ first scrimmage is scheduled for Aug. 11, with the annual soap scrimmage set for either Aug. 17 or 18.
Gillette’s opens the 2012 season Aug. 24 when it travels to Evanston.
Last year, in the season-opening game against the Red Devils in Gillette, the Camels won 40-36.
With their hard work over the summer, the Camels hope they’ll be ready to go.