IRHS athletes put in some summer sweat

A little blood, sweat and tears never hurt anybody. Add some cold steel to the equation, and you have a prepared and able athlete ready to compete in the fall.

Indian River’s two-a-day summer conditioning program for its football team began July 5 in an attempt to recapture and improve on last season’s success.

“We usually start our off-season program right after school starts. But since the school year ended so late, we (the coaches) let the kids rest till after July 4th,” said Head Football Coach Jim Bunting. “After July 4 ... football season starts for me.”

It seems that the fall season has already started for about 30 dedicated athletes as they work to prepare themselves for the coming season.

“We have about 15 kids come in to workout in the 7-9 a.m. session and 15 that come in during the 6-8 p.m. session,” said Bunting. “We asked the guys to come in. We didn’t demand anything. But it helps build camaraderie.”

“These sessions work well for the guys because a lot of them work. They either get up at 6 a.m. and lift hard for an hour or so and then work an eight hour day — or they work all day and then come in to lift at night,” said Bunting. “You can really tell a lot about a player when you see their work ethic.”

Bunting said that he expects more athletes to participate as they near the opening of their Aug. 8 voluntary instructional-skills camp.

The voluntary camp is open to football players of all ages — in fact, it’s encouraged. Middle-school football players attend the camp, and the weight room is available before and after the camp to all those who want to put in a little extra work.

“Some of these guys bring their younger siblings into the weight room and show them different techniques, and we have some graduates that come back to help with the camp,” said Bunting.

“It’s good for these guys to be role models because I tell them that there will always have kids idolize them because they are athletes. Those are the kids that in five years, when they get to high school, they have the same fire in their belly because they had a good experience.”

Bunting, like other coaches, hasn’t always been able to get the kids into the weight room to prepare in the off-season, but the day of showing up on the first day of practice and being able to compete is over.

“Central’s Head Coach John Wells’ football program has been successful because of their weight training program, but he wasn’t always able to get kids to attend,” said Bunting.

“But success breeds success and I think our kids have seen that. They are realizing that [they] can hit a ball farther or wrestle harder if they lift, and a lot them started training for the fall season in December. Now I don’t have to walk around school with a sign on my back.”

“They realize that the guy they played against across the line last year as a freshman or sophomore will be lifting and getting better. So they need to continue to improve to compete,” said Bunting.

The summer weight-training program includes lifting, conditioning and plyometrics in order to work all the necessary components of the athletes’ bodies.

“We also try to mix up the venues, too,” said Bunting. “We’ll go up to the beach on Thursdays and have them run on hard sand, soft sand and swim. We’ll do plyometrics twice a week and we’ll have upper body days and lower body days.”

“Our trainer, Todd Fuhrman, works with them on some different things,” said Bunting. “It’s good to see how they respond to new challenges because you want to see how they can adapt. The kids that make the adjustments are the kids you want in the game.”

For those who attend — the program will prepare each athlete for their chosen sport. Crunch time isn’t too far away. Summer practice officially begins Aug. 15.