Tag Archives: sports


More Than Just a Game

By Coach Mike Gurley

Excitement is in the air as high school football quickly approaches. College football and the NFL will follow soon after. Communities throughout the nation will be filled with adrenaline as each school tries to answer “yes” to the question of whether this will be the year. There will be new helmets and uniforms shining under the Friday night lights, cheerleaders dancing, bands playing, children running and laughing, parents sitting proudly in their seats watching their child in uniform, hot dogs being cooked, popcorn popping, and community support at its highest. The agenda is simple: WIN! However, as you watch the games this fall, I hope all fans will take some time from their cheering to see that the games go way beyond the scoreboard. There is more to the game than the game itself.

Football, like all other sports, teaches many life lessons to young people that won’t be reflected on a team’s win/loss record. I have coached for more than 25 years and I can promise you that sports is a wonderful way for young people to practice the biggest game of them all – the game of life. I have had teams that won it all and teams that struggled to the finish line. I know that the lessons learned by players could not be taught anywhere else. John Wooden, the great basketball coach at UCLA, liked to say, “Success is a journey, not a destination.” That simple phrase describes how, during a young player’s journey, valuable life lessons occur that become the ingredients to help mold values and character. As stated earlier, the goal of all teams is to win. But every step on the journey to a victory helps our young people grow, grow up, and become adults.

I have always said that sports is a great way to practice the game of life. During a season, a player on any team will have a chance to use the right qualities and overcome the wrong attributes to help their team be a success. When children play sports, they learn to win. But, more importantly, they learn to lose. They also learn how to be the best they can be and they learn to adapt their skills to help the team when they are not. They learn what it is like to be a star and they learn how to be a substitute when their skills are not as good as another’s. They learn to play a role and execute a game plan that the coach puts in because winning teams must be on the same page during a game. Players find things they are good at and they find things that take work. All those things face us as adults, but our young people are dealing with it for the first time. Luckily, in a sports setting, the highs and lows of competition won’t affect their future.

If a young person learns to handle situations maturely and intellectually, those same young people are going to become good mommas and daddies, good employees, good friends, good husbands and wives, and good people who will make their communities stronger by their presence. They will learn all the traits and qualities that a person will need to be a productive, positive member of society. As fans, you see the final product from the assembly line. Coaches see the journey and the work that is required of all members of a team. They help players develop time management skills, discipline to do the work, dedication to a common cause, pride in their work, understanding of the fundamentals, focus on the job they have, intensity to be ready to play, integrity to do things right and to be a good sport, unity and bonding of a team, endurance to see a goal achieved, and the skills needed to be the best they can be.

Coaching staffs play a big role in helping their children develop. It is important that all parents stay positive with their child even if the child is not a star! Any bitterness and anger that parents display in front of their children will delay the development of their child. Parents, you may not be happy that “Junior” isn’t the starting quarterback, but you can make it a positive experience for him or her by encouraging them, supporting the team, being positive about their role, and letting your child stand on their own two feet as they practice the game of life on their football teams. Instead of raising a bitter, excuse-making child, you will have a strong-minded, problem-solving child who will be a success in the game of life.

 I love sports. It helped take a young, skinny, unsure kid like myself and help me become a man. My dad came to all my games, but he insisted that I handle my own business. He didn’t talk to the coach, he didn’t bad mouth my teammates who played in front of me, and he always wanted me to keep working because he felt it would make me better. He was right! I loved it so much that I made it my career. Like all teachers, I wish I made more money, but I have never regretted the decision I made to be a teacher and coach. It taught me to work for what I want, to find a ladder for every wall I encountered, to get up when I got knocked down, and to feel good about myself. I learned what it takes to make it in this great big world!

All those Jackets, Dragons, Black Knights, Spartans, Eagles, Bulldogs, and Panthers are itching to play that first game and hear the roar of their fans as they try to lead their team to victory. Every team is going to be the best it can be to win the game! But don’t forget there is more to it. Sports can help your child grow up and be a productive citizen. Enjoy that. Celebrate that. What you will find then is that everyone will be a winner. Success does have destinations, but isn’t it exciting to know that your child will benefit on the journey because they played high school sports? There is more to the game than the game.


Agility Training for the Non-Athlete

By Stacy Vanzant Certified Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor

We all remember the fun games of tag that we played as kids. We would chase after our friends trying to tag each and every one of them as they bobbed, weaved, and shuffled out of our way. It was a game of speed, accuracy, and agility.

You’re probably thinking the same thing as I am: “That was years ago when I had a youthful frame, loads of energy, and flexible joints.” Yes, you’re right, but agility training has come back into popularity for a variety of reasons that don’t including playing sports.

Sports Agility Training (SAT) is breaking the molds of traditional exercise routines and climbing in popularity fast. SAT is a form of fitness that builds speed, agility, reactivity, and quickness. Many levels of play from youth, collegiate, amateur, and professional competitive arenas are encouraging their athletes to incorporate agility fitness exercises into their training programs.

Sports Agility Training is a form of exercise that’s done with a specific task in mind for a short period of time. For example, running back and forth from a series of cones, weaving feet over and back of an agility ladder, or even running weighted sprints are a few examples of SAT.

Because of its ability to improve the body’s reactions and break performance plateaus, the intrigue and interest are bringing common, weekly fitness enthusiasts into the mix and they are practicing SAT on a regular basis.

Agility drills increase your balance, dynamic flexibility, functional core strength, control, and reduce your risk of physical injury by improving body mechanics. These benefits are allowing adults to stay active longer, enhance reflexes, improve coordination, and maintain balance and muscle mass to support the skeletal structure.

FUN is back in Fitness! After years of repetition in popular fitness routines on treadmills, bikes, and even in the weight room, you can stop your boring workout that sometimes keeps you from exercising.  Let’s face it, if you like what you’re doing you’re more likely to continue. Each SAT routine is unique and offers a wide variety of exercises keeping you engaged and excited to perform each exercise.

Motivation for Measurable Results. We all want to see results of our efforts. Agility training is an excellent form of fitness that’s easily measured each time it’s performed. A drill like a three-cone shuttle run, often performed at professional football try-outs, is a good example. Perform the drill and time yourself. Record the time and after a week or so of training, do the drill again and time yourself. You will be amazed at how quickly you can see measurable results after only a few exercise routines.

High-Intensity Interval Training. Agility training is a form of HIIT which is an effective way to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Running very fast for a short period of time (10-30 seconds) and then allowing the body to recover before repeating the exercise is a great way to burn calories fast! HIIT training also carries over after the workout to continue a high caloric burn hours after your exercise routine is over.

Prevent Injury. Changing movement patterns quickly allows you to train the body to make modifications in a split second. Training your body to change directions in movement and speed allows your muscles to improve upon the strength and resiliency of connective tissue. If you have been training in agility and trip stepping onto a curb, it’s likely your body will be more responsive and prevent a fall.

Warm-up Is a Must. Unlike other exercise methods that allow you to slowly warm-up the muscle and connective tissue, agility training requires your body be fully warm before starting any of the exercises. Agility training requires a longer warm-up to ensure the body is fully ready to train. If you’re not fully prepared to start the workout it’s likely you can become injured. You wouldn’t hop out of the car and go into a full 50 meter sprint, so please get warm before starting any agility drills.

Most Calibers of Fitness Can Enjoy SAT. If you can’t run then jog. If you can’t jog then speed walk! Modifications are perfectly acceptable with any form of fitness, so give it a try! As with any fitness routine, consult with your doctor.

Perform 3 to 5 reps of each exercise to your fastest and fullest ability and have fun!

Hop Scotch Drills (if you do not have an agility ladder, grab some chalk and the kids and get moving).

1 In Forward:

Start with both feet outside of the ladder. Hop one foot at a time in each block of the ladder until you reach the end keeping the opposite foot off the ground. Then hop back one foot at a time until you’ve completed the whole ladder. Down and back is 1 rep. Remember speed is key!

2 in Forward:

Working your way back down the ladder, one foot and then the other will enter each section of the ladder. Keep the count of 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 as quick as you can down.

2 in Lateral:

Working down the ladder laterally, run, jog placing each foot in each ladder slot. Add high knees to this drill for a high intensity calorie burn. Run, Run!

Hopscotch Forward:

Starting with both feet outside of the ladder jump with both feet into the ladder then jump to straddle the outside of the slot on the ladder. Hop into the next slot and then straddle and so forth. For an increase drill add a squat when jumping outside the ladder.

In-In, Out-Out:

Alternate feet and in and out of the ladder as you work your way down the length of the ladder. Again, add a high knee move to elevate this exercise intensity.

Three-Cone Drill:

Place three cones (or other markers) in a triangle pattern eight feet apart. Sprint from the first cone to the second. Circle that cone, then run backward to the first. Circle the first cone, then sprint to the third cone; circle it, then run backward to the first cone. Repeat as quickly as you can three times. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat three more times.

Weaving Sprint:

Line up five cones (or other markers) in a row, about 18 inches apart (a bit less than your average stride). Start at one end and weave through the cones, running as fast as possible without knocking them over. At the end, turn around and jog back. Do four reps, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence three times.

Compass Drill: