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Football coaches encourage offseason cross training

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Football coaches encourage offseason cross training

The Southerner

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The sun is rising on a new sports season at Grady, and the stadium is again littered daily with an array of spring athletes. This year, the familiar faces of the football team are among them, but they aren’t clad in the usual helmets and pads. Each member of the team was instructed by the coaching staff to play another sport in the off season.

In an age of increasingly intense sport specialization, this move may be seen as bold and refreshing. Head football coach Earthwind Moreland called the rule a no-brainer.

“It’s going to keep them in shape, keep their minds sharp and keep them from falling into a bad routine,” Moreland said. “Athletes like a routine. Once football ended and they didn’t have to come to practice everyday or play on Friday nights, some people just fall off. Staying active and involved with something else helps with structure.”

He added that by playing another sport, students must continue to keep their grades up to remain academically eligible.

Moreland learned firsthand the benefits of playing multiple sports; he ran track and played football, baseball and basketball while attending Grady.

“Every sport is able to make you better in something else,” Moreland said. “Basketball is building footwork, baseball is building hand-eye coordination, the kickers are working on their motion with soccer. Being able to hone in on individual aspects makes you a better football player.”

While many of the football players already participated in multiple sports before the requirement, some are having to pick up entirely new sports in a very short time frame.

Terry Jones is in a unique position as both a football and lacrosse coach. Many of his football players have now joined the lacrosse team, some for the first time, including junior Theron Anches. Anches described the process of learning to catch and throw with a stick both difficult and fun.

“I didn’t know a lot about lacrosse before I started playing,” Anches said, “I knew there was hitting involved — that’s what really influenced my choice.”

Despite their inexperience, Jones is optimistic about his new lacrosse players.

“The hardest thing is getting them to understand the rules,” Jones said.

The football coaching staff also sees the multisport requirement as a way to help their players with getting into college.

“Schools want well-rounded athletes. College recruiters are looking at them differently because they know they’re more versatile,” Moreland said.

“We’ve always wanted our kids to play another sport,” Jones added. “Regardless of what it is, they become more marketable. My dad always told me growing up, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’”

In addition to their offseason sport practices, the players are still expected to come to winter workouts after school, and the majority are enrolled in Moreland’s yearlong weight lifting class.

“We’ll be a much better team, a much more physical team, because of the work that we’re doing now,” Moreland said.  

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Football coaches encourage offseason cross training