More weight to lift

A few coaches from Iowa City West High school speak about the class of 2023 transitioning from junior high athletics to high school athletics.


Brendon Panther

Student athletes participating in the summer Speed and Agility program

Transitioning from junior high to high school is a big change for all students, but for athletes, it’s a bigger adjustment. Summer training affects student athletes participating in sports from all different seasons. This includes volleyball, football, basketball, dance team and more. These students spend most of their summer vacations in the weight room, on the field or in the gym training. For some sports, like football and volleyball, the summer training program is optional. However, for teams like the Poms and the baseball team, it isn’t optional. This gives coaches ideas of who is willing to put in the effort to make themselves, and their team, better.

First, take a look at who leads the program. Brendon Panther, strength and conditioning coach, pilots most sports’ summer programs. This is his fifth year working for West High, and his second year directing the summer training program. Being the leader of all of this gives him a position as a mentor to many student athletes. This includes motivating them to get up and go to training during their summer vacation. Part of it is just athletes realizing the importance of training. 

“If you want to play you have to show up.””

— Brendon Panther

“If you want to play you have to show up,” Panther said. “I think some of the kids especially as they get older, they can see the value. They’ve done it before, so they know how it helps to kind of get buy in from that.”

Ty Haren, head coach of the sophomore football team, notices the hard work put in by his freshman players and how they were motivated to go to training to start off on the right foot. “Not letting down teammates and not starting on a bad note with the coaching staff and wanting to make good first impressions,” Panther said. “They put pressure on themselves to not let their teammates down.”

Poms head coach, Kathleen Fallon, also leads a summer program herself. Everything she does is based on the members’ punctuality and how hard they’re working. Especially with freshman dancers, she looks for people who can handle the rigorous workouts and someone who will work hard during those workouts. The first day of those workouts was definitely a surprise to those freshmen. 

“I think our first official practice was a little bit harder, I guess, than what they thought it was going to be, especially with the running. We’re running over a mile and a half, so I think that that was yes a very big shock to them,” Fallon said, “We basically run and depending on, kind of, the morning and how everything’s going, we’ll run a certain amount of laps. If someone’s late we’ll double the laps.”

Summer training is a place to prove spots on the team, but it doesn’t stop there. Since many athletes may not have a way to get to summer practices, the coaching staff makes sure to take what they’re doing during practice. The judgement doesn’t just magically end when the season actually starts. For most coaches, that’s when it really starts. 

“It’s never based on you know how good they are or how strong they are it’s just about, do they give an effort? Are they trying to get better?” Panther said.

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