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The grind before hitting the gridiron
In one half of the gym, a dozen-plus boys raise a thick rope above their heads and prepare for their next bit of physical exertion. In the other, another dozen hurl slabs of metal and plastic, lifting them to the sky and dropping them in thunderous booms and clangs.
And throughout, sweat and smiles. So this is football before football.
The old cliche about football season being won in the offseason — and more pointedly in the weight room — is getting a bit of a new twist for Sequim High’s Wolves, who are doing more than just “hitting the weights” this offseason. After a winless football campaign in 2013, Sequim’s football squad is out in force for a two-month program at SportsFit Training Center, a group fitness center just east of Sequim proper.
To be sure, the Wolves traditionally come out as a pack in most offseasons to get their bodies in shape for those August turnouts and two-a-day practices. Perhaps more than in past years, however, is a focus on strength and agility through SportsFit.
Thanks to funds raised by the team’s booster program, SportsFit trainers are putting players through a football-specific, eight-week gauntlet to prep them for a prep season that kicks off Sept. 5 at home against Chimacum.
“They’re starting to come together,” says Nikki Julmist, owner of SportsFit. She and coaches ran players through morning stretches and exercises on Aug. 4, the start of the sixth week. “They’ve changed a lot (since they started). More mature, better leaders. They’re growing.”
Miguel Moroles, Sequim High’s starting quarterback last season and a leader with the group, started coming to SportsFit last year after his mother joined. The dynamics of the regimen here, Moroles says, paid off last season.
“I totally see improvements,” Moroles says. “A lot of people noticed. My speed and agility went up.”
With his experience and role on the team, Moroles leads several morning exercises, a role he says he’s comfortable with.
“I’ve been around the system for four years,” says the senior-to-be. “It’s nice to step up and do my part.”
While one group — the larger bodies that typify the lineman physique — hit weights, the rest of the team work on combining strength and agility, and then the groups switch. Julmist says the teens are not necessarily 100 percent on board when they start, but they are after a couple of weeks. Part of it, she says, is encouragement from other players.
“It’s all group training here,” she says. “It’s more energy, more fun.”
(SportsFit also sees athletes from other SHS teams train there, from softball to soccer.)
Ty Jones, a running back and free safety on the field, started with SportsFit’s regimen last year and, like Moroles, has seen benefits. Jones says that while holding that thick rope above his head for minutes on end while doing various movements is tough, the toughest might be the quarter-mile kettle bell lunge lap around the SportFit facility.
In the end, though, Jones and Wolves teammates — about 30 are consistently hitting the gym this summer, one hour a day for four days each week — hope the effort is worth it.
“We have to try as a unit,” Jones said. “Last year, it was little mistakes. Most of the time we were the better team for a half.”
Moroles says the team does consider last year’s 0-10 campaign, but that they try look at it from a positive perspective.
“We talk about it as a learning experience,” he says. “This year? I think there will be a big difference.”
Sequim High School Football — 2014 schedule
Date Opponent Time
Sept. 5 Chimacum 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Coupeville 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 Kingston 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at North Kitsap 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 Centralia 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 North Mason 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Port Angeles 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Olympic 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 Bremerton 7 p.m.
Date Opponent Time
Sept. 8 at Chimacum 5 p.m.
Sept. 15 Coupeville 5 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Kingston 5 p.m.
Sept. 29 North Kitsap 5 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Centralia 5 p.m.
Oct. 13 at North Mason 5 p.m.
Oct. 20 Port Angeles 5 p.m.
Oct. 27 Olympic 5 p.m.
Nov. 3 at Bremerton 5 p.m.
Reach Gazette editor Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.