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Workouts challenge players

WESSON — “What have you done today to beat Northwest?”

That challenge is scrawled on a sheet of paper attached to theglass door where football players enter the Frank Pitts Field Houseon the Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus. Northwest isCo-Lin’s season-opening opponent for the 2007 football campaign.Head coach Glenn Davis expects his Wolfpack to be mentally andphysically ready for the Aug. 30 road test.

Physical conditioning is the main order of business as preseasonpractice approaches next month. In the offseason, there are fewbreaks from the preparation process. It involves weightlifting andrunning during the sweat-soaked summer, plus classroom work as manyplayers picked up additional credits towards graduation.

“The big thing about summer workouts is that it shows a lot ofcommitment from the kids,” said Coach Davis. “We have a large groupparticipating.”

According to NCAA rules, participation is not mandatory but theplayers realize every community/junior college has some form ofoffseason conditioning program, either on or off campus. Coachesaren’t allowed to supervise or direct workouts but they can producea workout regimen for their players to follow.

“I’m really pleased by the number of incoming freshmen who arehere to work out,” said Davis. “Many of them have obtained theirstudent loans and are taking summer course. They are gettingahead.”

How dedicated a player is to the workouts, usually reflects hislevel of success on the football field. Co-Lin finished 9-3 lastseason and was ranked No. 6 in the final NJCAA national poll. ThePack was South Division and State runner-up. The Wolves wereinvited to a postseason bowl and whipped Georgia Military College21-0 in the Sea Island Golden Isles Classic in Brunswick, Ga.

Intense workouts help players build strength and speed. They areable to overcome the fatigue demons which haunt teams during thefourth quarter.

“If kids have to think about how tired they are and what theirassignments are, you don’t execute at a high speed,” Davisexplained. “They don’t have to think, ‘I can’t make it through thenext play,’ because they’re tired.”

Summer workouts form a bond which lasts through the season andschool year. Davis said encouraging each other is important, too.”It’s easier when you work out with somebody. That helps alot.”

Observing the NCAA rules, players work out on a volunteer basis.”We can’t make it mandatory like a lot of high schools,” saidDavis. “We ask them to come and make the team better.”

Carson Jeffers serves as strength coach and offensive line coachat Co-Lin. He draws up workout sheets for each player, listing hisprescribed weights in the bench press, squat, power clean andincline press.

“We do different weights on different days,” said Jeffers. “Theywork on upper body strength on Mondays and Wednesdays. Then theywork the lower body on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Each workout begins with a series of stretches to loosen tightmuscles. The players encourage each other as heavy barbells bounceand echo off a padded floor on the power clean.

According to Jeffers, the workouts are similar to a job. “Theyare grown-ups. They know what it takes to be successful. They knowit will help them with their future, make them successful. It willhelp with their recruiting, too.”

The majority of Co-Lin’s starting offensive and defensive unitssigned senior college scholarships after last season. Most of themwere eligible to transfer at the semester break, giving them theadvantage of participation in spring practice at their respectiveuniversities.

Jeffers said Co-Lin’s sophomores provide leadership for thenewcomers. “They know what the lifts are and they know how toperform.”

After an hour in the weight room, the players migrate to StoneStadium where they stretch some more and begin a series of sprintsunder the sizzling summer sun.

NCAA rules proclaim that coaches can’t force players to work outduring the summer. So, it becomes a matter of self-motivation andpersonal pride for each athlete.