By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER-- The work put in during the offseason can translate to success during the regular season. When it comes to Gloucester High School athletes, they take those words seriously, and take them to the next level.
Take a trip down to Good Harbor Beach or Stage Fort Park just after dawn on a summer morning and one can see just how serious Gloucester High School athletes take their offseason strength and conditioning. Three days a week throughout the summer, GHS athletes from all sports meet for offseason strength and conditioning workouts led by Mike Lattof.
“We need to build the stamina and strength in the offseason and that’s what this is for,” Gloucester football captain Connor Adkins said. “In a game we aren’t going to get a lot of breaks and the hard work we put in here helps us prepare for that.”
To call the morning workouts rigorous would be an understatement. Athletes start off with a warmup run, the length of Good Harbor Beach and back before breaking into calisthenics and stretching. From there, the focus can break off into a number of different directions - footwork drills, sprints, jumps, core training, sled pulling (at Stage Fort Park workouts) and sprints in knee deep water are only a few of the drills athletes will go through in the two-plus hour workout.
Athletes are put to the test from the start both physically and mentally, and that’s what draws them in. On Wednesday nearly 75 athletes from all different sports gathered at Good Harbor Beach. There were freshman, seniors, boys, girls, even a few old faces who had graduated high school but were looking to get in shape before beginning their respective college seasons.
No matter which team they represented, all the athletes had one common goal, to improve their strength and conditioning.
“We’ve already seen improvements in our conditioning and recovery time,” Gloucester field hockey captain Jill MacDonald said. “We have two weeks of preseason practices instead of one this year, so we need to come into camp in shape. The girls who have been coming have put in a lot of work and and will be in good shape heading into the first practice.”
“It’s tough, and it’s not just physical toughness it’s mental toughness in seeing how hard you can push yourself,” GHS football captain Jason Lattof said. “But it’s worth it. We go into camp already in shape, you can tell the difference between the players who have been putting the work in and the ones who haven’t right away.”
The program started more than two decades ago as offseason conditioning for the football team, but recently captains from other sports have caught on. On Wednesday, nearly every sports team at Gloucester High School had a representative putting in work to get ready for the season.
Basketball season may not begin until the winter season, but that hasn’t stopped junior captain Julianna Costanzo from rounding up several teammates and working out with the rest of the GHS athletes.
“Now we’re ahead of the game,” Costanzo said. “We have heard about how hard the football teams works for years and we figured that if we come down here and put in the same hard work then maybe it will help us push a little further into the tournament this season.”
It’s not just a strength and conditioning workout for the athletes either, by working out together in the offseason, teams also build the camaraderie that is necessary to be successful during the season. It’s something about helping a teammate cross the finish line, or giving a teammate pointers on a drill that brings them closer together.
“We build a bond,” Adkins said. “The freshmen coming up get to know us and know what we’re about and we get to compete with each other too. We help each other through the struggles here the same we would on the field.”