Students Battle Off-Season Drowsiness Through School-Run Training
Athletes find time to stay active for their sports seasons by attending Titan Training
January 6, 2023
Though it is far from dusk, the obsidian clouds above cast shadows over the land as they unfurl across the sky. The air is bitter and sharp, like blades against the skin, a rough grip pinching over ears and noses, each breath peeling over frostbitten lips, ice shards rattling within lungs. The lake is opaque and irritable, a gray pool of snarling white caps, baring its teeth as winter closes in. Grass crunches underfoot, mud is cold against woolen socks. Bleachers stand empty in open fields, boats are locked away, and the inevitable arrival of snow puts a halt to any races. The fall season is undeniably over, and the long northern Michigan winter is practically here.
Though the sports that student-athletes participate in for most of the year are near impossible to do during the winter months, that doesn’t stop them from staying on top of their training.
“In winter, I’m actually upstairs sprinting in the hallways with my coach,” senior Rylee Herban said, “And then, I have a personal trainer I work with for lifting and then I do [track] winter season, which is in Grand Rapids pretty much every weekend.”
Herban has been running track since her sophomore year and runs with the cross-country team in the fall season.
“I want to compete in college, so I have to put in the work if I want to be a collegiate athlete,” Herban said. “That’s kind of why I’m working with a personal trainer right now because we don’t do lifting with the team. When I go to college, I know they’re gonna lift, so I want to know what I’m doing.”
Junior Amari Rosenburg also finds ways to stay active while she waits for the water to be safe again for her sport: rowing.
“I just kind of train,” Rosenburg said. “I run [and] lift some weights, now and then. [I stay competitive in the winter season by] just moving my body and having a healthy diet, just making sure I feel good.”
Training inside for so many months can get to be mentally taxing on students, especially ones so used to being active outside.
“I like being outside so much better than being inside,” Rosenburg said. “I like seeing the sun.”
Student-athletes also face a few more obstacles during the winter season than they do in their regular seasons.
“It’s definitely very exhausting, especially because not everyone does it, so you don’t have enough teammates to keep you going, it’s kind of just yourself,” Herban said. “I honestly feel like we’re at a disadvantage here, because the closest indoor track is Grand Rapids, which is very annoying because they have club teams in Grand Rapids. They practice every day, they’re sprinting inside, so they have a lot more opportunities there.”
While doing workouts in a gym can be less engaging than participating in one’s typical sport, it is crucial to the maintenance and improvement of athletic performance.
“You can’t be in a growth mindset for only part of the year and get the most out of your potential,” Physical Education teacher and track coach Jason Morrow said. “You need to keep working [out in the gym] even though you’re in season.”
For many student-athletes, motivation during the winter months can be the hardest battle to conquer.
“A lot [of] self-motivation goes into it, and you have to be serious about it because there’s been times where I’m like, ‘I don’t want to go to practice today, I don’t want to do this’ and I get into ruts,” Herban said. “And then you gotta pick yourself back up, which is hard.”
Luckily, there is a solution for students who want to continue training in the winter, but need some extra motivation from peers to keep going. It’s called Titan Training, and it is run year-round by Morrow.
“When I came up to the high school six years ago, we didn’t have huge numbers in the weight room,” Morrow said. “We needed to expand, so we just wanted a brand and something that all of our students and people can get behind. Like, this is what we do, this is what we’re about.”
Titan Training isn’t just for student-athletes, nor is it just for the wintertime.
“It’s something that everybody can do. You don’t have to play a sport. Everybody can get better,” Morrow said. “If you’re in a weights class, you’re part of our Titan Training stuff. It’s all about speed, athleticism, strength [and] power, we don’t try to do just one thing. We’re not powerlifters, we’re not sprinters. We’re trying to build an all-encompassing athlete. If kids want to do something outside of their weights class, then they can come in after school [and] they can lift. We do speed-training twice [a] week, so we do speed-training Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.”
Winter training programs such as Titan Training could be the perfect fit for students looking to build a community around personal athleticism. Being around others can make working out easier and more enjoyable.
“My favorite part of [winter training] is just hanging out with my teammates, just training and building a better bond between us and kind of suffering together,” Rosenburg said.
Though the winter season is long and can feel a little oppressing, Morrow believes that it is important to continue training, not only in the off-season but during the regular season too.
“I think that it’s always good to get outside in the wintertime, I think you have to have something that you enjoy doing outside on a regular basis to get through the winter, but from a training standpoint, we have to be able to use the equipment we have inside to train,” Morrow said. “[You] can’t say, ‘I’m gonna take this season off while I’m playing a sport’ and still have the same ability to progress like [you] would.”
Perhaps the most important part about participating in a winter training program of any kind is the confidence that it builds.
“I get very nervous before a race like I’m about to throw up,” Herban said. “By doing winter training, I’m able to prepare myself for what it’s gonna feel like actually competing for real.”
Winter training is crucial for staying in a competitive mindset.
“I think it kind of just builds muscle, for me,” Rosenburg said. “It kind of builds some confidence as well, ‘cause I know what I’m capable of and what my 2k times should be on the erg and I’m hoping it translates out to the water. But, I get a feel for the movement and the technique, at least.”