Despite the fact that all Marlborough athletic teams have a designated season in which to train and compete, certain sports teams, such as Varsity Softball and Varsity Volleyball, have begun to hold practices and conditioning sessions, separate from J Period, before the official start of the season.
This fall, members of the Varsity Softball team, which trains five days a week during its season, began to attend unofficial practices on Fridays or Saturdays as early as Nov. 23, four months before the official start of their spring season. These optional practices, which the School has not sanctioned, were organized by the coach of the Varsity team and the team’s co-captains. Most weeks, the team also holds two optional lunch-time hitting sessions during the school day, during which they use Marlborough’s batting cages while under the supervision of a teacher.
According to the team’s co-captain and All-School President Kyla ’14, the coach instituted the optional practices as a means to help the girls who have time to prepare for the pre-season, adding that while the practices are not mandatory, the coach would like as many players as possible to have practiced before the start of the pre-season.
“I think all of this, all of these games and practices, are to build up to the season to make sure we’re the best team that we can be,” Kyla said.
Varsity Volleyball has also extended training time outside of the season. According to varsity volleyball player Kate ’14, several members of the team continue to work with Strength and Conditioning Coach Lindsey Yocum on Tuesdays and Thursdays, even though the team’s season ended in November. However, Kate stressed that the request for extra time with Yocum came from the girls themselves.
“It wasn’t our coach’s idea to do off-season…we asked [Yocum] if we could do it because in the beginning we hated [training] but we realized that…it helped us so much in our season,” she explained.
According to Athletic Director David Collicutt, no team is sanctioned by the School to hold official practices outside of their seasons. He mentioned that, in the case of softball, girls have often formed a group and played together during the fall, but that these practices are independent of Marlborough in that the coaches are not paid if they choose to work with the teams, and teams do not use School equipment or facilities.
“The [softball] girls came to me and asked about using the batting cage, [so] we put the batting cage up a little bit early… but there is no mandatory practice outside of the season,” Collicutt said.
Despite the fact that these extra training sessions are not mandatory, Kate mentioned that she thinks some girls feel pressured to attend them, and that the pressure comes partly from the rest of the team.
“I know people who are really busy and may not want to go aren’t really going to admit that because the rest of the team is so gung ho about doing this,” she said.
Several athletes have noticed what they view as an increased time commitment for their sports. Varsity softball player Linzey ’15 commented that she thinks the team is playing more during the pre-season than they did the previous year, adding that they seem to be practicing year-round.
Ashleah ’15, who plays as catcher for the team, agreed.
“I think [the captains] are making [softball] a little more intense this year, in a good way… I think that it’s stepped up in school a lot just because of them,” she said.
Several people on the softball team said they have found the change in intensity to be beneficial and gratifying. Ashleah mentioned that she likes the increased commitment because it means the the team has begun to take their sport more seriously. Others, including Linzey, feel that the team should practice even more.
“I think if we want to get better, we should [practice outside of the season] more often because we want to win CIF,” Linzey stated. She added, however, that many girls who are not as serious about the sport and may be playing mostly for fun believe that the team has started to train too much in advance.
Even very dedicated players such as Ashleah noted that the large amount of time they invest in softball has limited the possibility of playing other sports; she played on the School’s Junior Varsity basketball team until the pressure of participating in two sports caused her to quit basketball this year.
“I found I was staying up to 3:00 in the morning every night… [so] I decided I needed to drop something. It was a hard decision because I really liked basketball,” she said.