Off-season is time to brush up on school sports skills


Fairbanks High School soccer players Mason Gross, left, and Kaleb Bosworth contend for possession of the ball. A group of Panthers get toether a few times a week for open field sessions to work on their skills.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)


Long gone are the days when members of a sports team would show up for the first day of preseason practice and begin working toward the upcoming campaign.

Sports have become too specialized and the competition has become too intense for a team, regardless of the sport, to think about work ethics of the past and wait for the opening day of practice.

Quite often, the success any team has greatly depends on how much off-season work is put into its preparation.

Each high school sports program in the state is granted 10 days of off-season coaching by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

For basketball teams, it may mean several days of shootouts or team camps.

Baseball, volleyball and softball teams may play in summer leagues or just use those days as off-season practice sessions.

The Fairbanks High School boys soccer squad will begin using its 10 days later this month and go into July leading up to the start of preseason practices on Thursday, Aug. 1.

‘We’re going to use a couple of those days later this month to play in a tournament in London,” said head coach Matt Humphrey. “We will use three more days during a team camp at Rio Grande University July 14-17.

“We’ll do some other things that will allow us to use all of our 10 days before the preseason begins.”

Until that time, members of the Panther squad get together a few times each week for open field sessions.

Players choose sides to play in games in which no score is kept and no coaching is involved.

“We don’t do any coaching during open fields,” said Humphrey. “These are just used to allow the guys to get out and have some fun playing soccer.

“Some of the guys play for different club teams in the spring, while others play baseball or run track and field,” he said. “We just let the guys play in order to work out some of the soccer kinks and get used again to working together on the field.

“We’re getting 18 to 26 guys out for these sessions.”

The Panthers have had a great deal of success over the years under Humphrey’s tutelage.

The program continues to grow as the coach anticipates more than 30 boys will be on the roster for the 2019 season.

“We’re going to be able to play a full junior varsity schedule this fall,” said Humphrey.

The coach said there will be at least six new freshmen in the program.


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