Training for Success

In one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history, a boxer named Rocky Balboa runs up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum wearing a jogging suit, sweat pouring off his face, straining to reach the top of the seemingly never-ending staircase. At the pinnacle of the climb, he triumphantly lifts his arms in celebration of the successful training. Cue the theme music.

That was in 1976 with the debut of Rocky. In 2006, that scene is recreated by several student-athletes of Notre Dame College as they go through the rigors of preseason training. Before a single book is opened or a lecture note is taken, about 130 young men and women are on the South Euclid campus with their noses to the grindstone.

In only their third day of training, the men’s soccer team took a ride out to the McKinley National Memorial in Canton, Ohio to run the stairs. Although there was no inspirational music playing in the background, the purpose of the run was the same. “It was not only a test of our stamina, but one of our mental toughness,” said second-year men’s soccer player Andy Carr. “A few people got sick, but we all made it through.”

The training technique is one of many employed by not only the men’s soccer team, but the women’s soccer, volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country teams during the two-week period meant to prepare the student-athletes for the upcoming fall sports season. “The first practice we did full-field ‘suicides’. The second practice we did 30 100-yard dashes and the third, we did a ton of agility drills,” said second-year women’s soccer player Jessica Skoien.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘suicides’, it refers to a series of sprints where an athlete begins at an end line and runs to a certain point on the field. The player then runs back to the end line and then runs to a point further on the field. This continues to a series of four or more points and may or may not be timed. The task is difficult in itself, but then add to that 80-degree heat. “It’s been tough. Some people have muscle strains or asthma, so getting through a certain drill can be difficult. After practice is even tougher. We all walk really slowly to our rooms because we’re so sore,” said Skoien.

Some of the volleyball players even have step stools to assist them with climbing into their bunks. “I’ve worked muscles I didn’t even know I had,” said first-year volleyball player Lindsey Suppes. “Practice is intense. We’re all pushing so hard to earn a spot. You can’t relax, there’s no time to slack and you must be on your toes all the time.”

Third-year volleyball player Kristy Stefanski agrees preseason isn’t easy, “You’re always focused and working so hard. If you’re not tired at the end, you’re not working hard enough. When each day is over, we all just go back to our rooms and lay down.” Stefanski laughs, “If we can make it back to our rooms.”

As for the cross country teams, its members are used to running. It’s the two-a-day practices with swimming that don’t come easy. “Maybe for the people that know how to swim it’s ok, but for people like me,” admits second-year runner Amanda Corrigan, “it’s hard. I’m definitely sleeping better at night.”

Teammate Jason Hunter, who’s in his fourth year, is in agreement, “We all trained on our own before coming in, but we’re all at different levels. It’s tough, but preseason’s always a good time. You just run and that’s it.”

Although preseason is difficult in different ways for the various student-athletes, all agree it’s a worthwhile experience. Perhaps Carr said it best, “It’s not necessarily how you make it through, but the team bonding that gets you through.”

Cue the theme music.

Kristy Booher is the former sports information director for Notre Dame College. 

E.g., 06/24/19
E.g., 06/24/19