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STOVALL: Summer offseasons aren’t just a football fad

Gabriel Stovall

Gabriel Stovall

Basketball is alive and well this summer in the Southern Crescent side of football country.

It’s been well documented that an offseason in most high school sports is a thing of the past in many regards. And if you were looking for proof of that, you should’ve been at Clayton State University over the last couple of weeks.

In the land of big time high school sports, the quest for greatness is not seasonal.

Not even close.

Jonesboro, North Clayton and Stockbridge boys basketball teams were in full throttled action at Clayton State this week. Coaches already working on fleshing out their rosters for the 2013-14 season.

New Eagle’s Landing coach Elliot Montgomery is already trying to assemble the pieces of his puzzle to see if it creates a portrait of a back-to-back state champion.

But he still took time out to help mentor some kids in a basketball camp at Flippen Elementary this past week.

Stockbridge coach Rodney Latham is not only working out his boys at the Clayton State gym, but he’s also preparing to host the Play With Heart basketball camp at Stockbridge next Wednesday through Friday.

At Dutchtown the Bulldogs, along with Eagle’s Landing, Ola and Luella will be competing against each other, and several other squads around the metro, even with depleted rosters due to some injuries.

Last week Forest Park, Lovejoy and several other Clayton County schools laced up for some summer hoops action at Clayton State as well.

Keep in mind, these are glorified scrimmages — and even that may be a generous offering. Most teams aren’t concerned with running sets and specified plays.

They’re just trying to work on building depth, sorting out the standouts from the role players and keeping their legs churning for conditioning purposes.

It is absolutely necessary for the progress of success. No days off. Even when teams aren’t playing or practicing, you can’t keep players from continuing to work on their bodies and their games.

In most, if not all sports, players will find personal trainers to work with once formal daily workouts are done.

Oh, and about those workouts, the word “voluntary” is usually just window dressing. At this stage of the high school athlete’s career, many minds are turning to thoughts of preparing to play on the next level.

For some, like Eagle’s Landing Christian football coach Jonathan Gess, the hustle and bustle of summer workouts isn’t even about region and state championships anymore.

“We’re out here working every day to be the very best we can be,” said Gess, who’s Chargers won the Class A private school title in 2012. “We don’t even talk about championships. It’s really not about us repeating or anything like that. It’s how good can I get? I can walk up to a guy like [defensive end] Andrew Williams and say, ‘Hey, they said [Norcross defensive end] Lorenzo Carter is better than you. He’s the best. So I guess that means you’ve got to work a little harder.’”

Yes, that’s football, but basketball players are hearing the same challenges from their coaches because they’re looking for the same Div. I scholarship prizes.

For the purists nostalgic for the days when the summer meant family vacations and three-month breaks from school, the bad news is those days are over.

And not only are they done, but they’re probably never to return. And for the few remaining holdovers still stuck in yesteryear, it won’t be long before the gap between their programs and the rest of the world increases.

It is what it is. I, for one, don’t mind it, as it increases the quality of the product that I get to write about week after week.

And it’s not even just limited to the big three sports, football, basketball and baseball. Next week, I’ll be exploring the way that even high school softball, volleyball and wrestling are beginning to take advantage of the summer and offseason months like never before.

It’s definitely a new and ever increasingly competitive era for high school athletics.

Get on board, or get left behind.

Gabriel Stovall covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at gstovall@news-daily.com. On Twitter? Follow him @GabrielStovall.