â€œHow much is enough?â€ â€œWhen is it too much?â€ â€œIf I donâ€™t do it, am I losing ground to people that are?â€
These are the questions that are currently being asked by parents, players, coaches and administrators of high school students. For approximately the last decade, member schools in the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) have been allowed to work with their student-athletes in a fashion similar to their in school season.
â€œI take my runners to camp at Culver (Military Academy). My varsity girls are getting a chance to run with the best girls in the state of Indiana,â€ Terre Haute South Girls Cross Country coach Ed Jarvis said.
The reason for this switch was to allow high school coaches to have a chance have comparable influence with AAU and travel coaches.
â€œI like the fact that we get to work with our kids in June,â€ Terre Haute South Head Boys Basketball Coach Scott Ridge stated. â€œWe currently play approximately 20 games throughout the summer. The current system gives you some control, but also allows for freedom in July for AAU.â€
â€œThere is a wide variety in the quality of travel softball coaches,â€ Terre Haute South Softball coach Steve Woerner said. â€œSome (coaches) are really good at teaching the game. I think there is room for improvement from everybody involved. Our coaching staff does help our players to get spots on travel teams. The more that they play and the better the competition that the face, the more they will improve.â€
The summer schedule for student-athletes varies sport by sport. For example, boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ basketball will play approximately 15-20 games during the month of June. Teams will play in tournament at various places throughout the state of Indiana and throughout the Midwest. Sometimes these teams will feature teams on the regular season schedule.
â€œWe play approximately 15 games through the summer, which might be less than other teams play,â€ noted Terre Haute South Girls Basketball Coach Cara Stuckey. â€œWe also take a group to Notre Dame for a team camp. We as coaches look for individual improvement and team improvement. We also try to teach the basics and also try to help our kids stay in shape. We have around 30 kids show up throughout the summer.â€
On the other hand, many boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ swimming teams do not compete as part of a school at meets during the summer. Rather, they compete as individuals or as part of their club teams.
For some teams, the practice schedule for summer is very similar to the schedule set during the school year. Other teams use the summer to give back to the community by putting on camps for future players.
â€œWe started doing our summer softball camp as a fundraiser, but we also do it as a motivator for the future girls,â€ added Woerner. â€œThe campers really look up to the current team and it can help give the campers a goal for something to achieve. As coaches, it also gives us the opportunity to see what our future looks like and gives us early contact with future players.â€
The coaches that I have talked to are almost all in favor of having the opportunity to work with the student-athletes during the summer. But what do student-athletes think about the summer?
â€œThe summer better prepares me for the season and it is also a great time to meet new teammates,â€ Tasia Brewer said. So far, Brewer has lettered in track, soccer, and basketball during her high school career.
For many students, the high school summer season means even more time playing sports. Many student-athletes also play on some sort of travel or AAU team.
â€œI do spend time during the summer playing AAU basketball, but also working with the REX Ambassadors, as well as a volunteering,â€ Brewer added.
What does the future hold for summer high school sports? This past year, the IHSAA surveyed athletic directors and principals about adding a second moratorium week in the summer. Currently, coaches can have no contact with players during the week of July 4.
â€œMany of our athletes use the time around July 4 to either stay at home and relax or schedule vacations with families,â€ Terre Haute South Volleyball Coach Madison Minnick stated. â€œI take the time to and spend it with friends and family or spend it working at home.â€
The results of the school survey were mixed. Larger schools were against a second moratorium week. These schools cited the fact that it is better for the student-athletes to be around their coaches than the alternatives. For other sports, the moratorium week can be counterproductive.
â€œDuring the moratorium week, my athletes train with other coaches or attend camps. It is not in their best interest of my student-athletes to take a week off at this time of the year as our summer championship meets are typically 2 weeks after moratorium week. A better solution would be for each sport to decide when they would like to take their moratorium,â€ Terre Haute South Swimming and Diving Coach Jeff Thompson stated. Thompson is also a member of the Indiana Hall of Fame Board of Swimming Coaches.
The smaller schools cited concern of burnout among both their student-athletes and coaches, something that could possibly be a problem with larger school athletes as well.
â€œI worry about burnout. I play travel volleyball all year round, sometimes even twice a day, so I definitely get burnt out,â€ Ashley Bazier said. Bazier has lettered in volleyball during her high school career.
Some players play even more, as much as 100 games, in the summer just to pursue a college scholarship.
â€œThe serious player understands that they need to go out and push themselves. Most of the recruiting (for colleges) comes in summer ball. Most parents are not aware of the opportunities that are out there for the kids at different levels. I tell parents and players about opportunities. This year we had 4 players sign for college scholarships, which is due in part to the summer and the school year,â€ Woerner added.
As high schools continue to face budget shortfalls, it is quite possible that summer could be changing once again. Currently some school corporations have limited the amount of time athletes can use school facilities in the summer to save on the cost of utilities. This has forced teams to adapt.
In the end, summer is here! Chances are that you will see players playing somewhere. See you at the park!
Brian Mancuso is the Director of Athletics at Terre Haute South Vigo High School.Â He can be reached via email at email@example.com