Young athletes of both middle school and high school age and athletic aptitude are taking advantage of a free opportunity to work on getting in shape and ready for the 2018-2019 school year and sports seasons by attending early morning workouts at the Panther Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp, hosted by the Bullard Panther athletic department.
“It’s very exciting to have these athletes come in and hone their skills during the summer months,” said Adam Varnado, Bullard Panther football offensive coordinator and Panther Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp coordinator. “We love being around and working with our athletes, helping them to get better every day. Also, it’s a good time for us to work with our younger students who are at the middle school level, allow them to get to know us and allow us to build a firm foundation for the athletic program from the bottom up.”
With the annual camp offered for free to Bullard ISD athletes, Varnado said the extra work put in by athletes during the summer allows them to become familiar with their coaches before the school year begins.
“It’s a great free opportunity to work out during the summer, but also a chance for the athletes and coaches they may be playing for to be around each other,” said Varnado. “It allows the coach to see the athlete is dedicated to getting stronger and faster. The athletes could go anywhere else and pay to get faster and stronger, but a camp like this establishes a bond – not only for athletes and their coaches, but also between teammates. Being out here and giving it their all while sweating, pushing themselves, and encouraging each other will build that foundation and that team atmosphere going into the new season.”
There are two aspects to the annual Panther Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp, as the program helps athletes to increase their strength and speed abilities.
“The camp really focuses on a combination of both strength and speed exercises,” said Varnado. “Obviously, we want to get faster and work more on our agility, but we alternate days and pair up the exercises with what we’re doing in the weight room. Some of our speed drills include cones, change-in-directions, hills, and pulling ladders, while our outdoor power drills include flipping the big tires. We don’t want their bodies to get used to the same exercises; we like to shock them because that’s how you build muscle strength.”
Varnado discussed the effort shown by the athletes throughout the first half of the camp, particularly the athletes involved in Bullard Middle School athletic programs, saying he has seen a change in them since the camp’s start.
“The younger athletes have definitely changed since the first week of camp,” said Varnado. “They really didn’t understand they way we did things, like our structure or terminology. However, they have made huge strides in the past couple of weeks, especially in their effort. We want to teach them to be coachable and to give great effort – even though they didn’t know what we were doing, we were able to give them instruction and they’ve given an all-out effort. The middle school athletes are doing the same drills as the high school athletes, but it’s toned down a little in terms of intensity because we’re trying to teach them more than anything.”
Although the Panther coaching staff is working with the athletes throughout the camp’s sessions, Varnado said the program’s teams next season will be as good as the work and effort put forth during the summer months.
“The kids are working very hard during their workout sessions,” said Varnado. “We’re very proud of the effort that’s been given this far. We’ve also seen a lot of strong leadership from the athletes – they’re trying to get other athletes to come out and get ready. We put all on the kids because it’s their teams, and they’ll be as good and as prepared for the first game of the season as they want to be.”
According to Varnado, the drills and exercises performed by athletes at the Panther Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp will help improve the athletic attributes of players in any of the sports programs Panther Athletics offers.
“The Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp isn’t a camp just for football players,” said Varnado. “We’re doing this for all sports, whether you basketball, baseball, or football, or even run track or cross country. Everyone’s welcome to come to the workouts, and it will definitely benefit them when their respective season starts.”
With the Bullard Panther Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp taking a week off due to the Fourth of July holiday, Varnado said the changes in the athletes since the start of camp is clear to see.
“The biggest change I’ve seen has been in conditioning,” said Varnado. “Usually the first game of the season for any sport, it’s the team that’s in the best shape that wins. Teams usually get into better shape as the year progresses, but if you’re not in shape at the start of the season, it can cost you ball games. The kids who have consistently been here were spent at the beginning of camp, but if you go out there and watch them now, they’re finishing strong and encouraging their teammates. For the kids who are inconsistently coming, you can tell they’re struggling because we’re going all-out. If the athletes keep coming, it’ll pay dividends once the season starts. Even a little work during the summer preparing for the next season is better than no work at all.”
Sessions remaining in the Bullard Panther Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp program include Mondays through Thursday during the weeks of July 9-12, July 16-19, and July 23-26.
During the camp, male athletes in 10th through 12th grades take part from 7:15-9 a.m., while males in seventh through ninth grades participate from 8:15-9:45 a.m. Additionally, female athletes from seventh through 12th grades work out from 9-10 a.m.
Also, the Panther weight room facility is open to athletes and alumni from 5-6:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays during the camp schedule, as well as 7:30-9 a.m. on Fridays during the summer.
Many athletes participating in the summer program are working towards the start of the annual two-a-day practices, as Bullard Lady Panther volleyball practices will start Wednesday, Aug. 1, while Panther football practices are slated to start Monday, Aug. 6.
For more information about the Panther Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp, call the Bullard High School Field House at (903) 894-2850.