There is no such thing as the offseason anymore in high school athletics.
If you want to compete on a high level, you will be either in the weight room or practice field the majority of the summer.
And if you do multiple sports, chances are you will not get a break this summer between practices, games and camps.
Times have certainly changed from the “dark ages” of when yours truly competed in high school athletics. Once the final bell rung to end classes for the school year, we were pretty much on an extended two-month vacation.
The weight room would only open twice a week and practices were not allowed by the Georgia High School Association. Although we had our suspicions that certain competitors were holding practices.
There was the once-a-week summer league basketball game.
AAU basketball? That was only for the month of May. The rest of the time we would meet up at the local gymnasium or outdoor court in the neighborhood.
It is so much different nowadays, as the offseason has become more organized.
For coaches and athletes, the offseason is where a lot of the work in getting ready for the upcoming seasons take place.
If a team waits to the start of the season to get organized, they are probably too far behind to be considered a serious contender.
“If you are serious about your sport, there is no offseason,” Henry County boys basketball coach Vincent Rosser said.
It wasn’t that we weren’t serious about our sports, but high school rules didn’t allow for much offseason work. Sports, even on the high school level, has become a big and serious business.
Players are not only trying to compete for championships, but scholarship opportunities now depend largely on going to camps and playing on competitive club teams.
Such wasn’t the case several years ago.
In fact, even pro athletes could take a break during the summer.
That is hardly the case now with the NFL’s popular OTAs (Organized Team Activities), which includes several mini camps.
“In order to be competitive in Georgia, you have to make it a year-round thing,” Luella football coach Nic Vasilchek said. “If you want to be successful. it's almost got to be an 11-month season.”
And athletes are more than willing to sacrifice their summer time for sports.
Once last summer, Jonesboro multi-talented rising senior Cameron Sutton competed in a summer league in baseball, football and basketball all in the same day.
That is the kind of athlete that Eagle’s Landing coach Joe Teknipp likes.
“After 20 years, I still feel that high school sports is the greatest time in the world to play sports,” Teknipp said. “It’s pure sports. Pure football, basketball, baseball. Just heart, emotion and soul. I’m not going to chase guys down. I just want guys that in their hearts just want to play the game.”
And put in the offseason work.
Derrick Mahone is the sports editor for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @derrickmahone_ on Twitter.