The conditioning program being conducted from 8 to 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday is drawing good crowds and nice results according to participants and coaches.
Coach Rodney Flowers said attendance has been between 120 and 140 most days. Even rain and a threat of lightning did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 2009 group.
Last year the program averaged 80-90 participants per day. Sulphur Springs is in the third year of using the system of running, weight lifting and exercises designed to increase speed.
"We look for even bigger crowds in the next week or so. Some kids are going to be back in town after going to church camps," Flowers said. "We want kids to enjoy the summer and do activities. But we also think they have time to work out up here with us."
The program continues for five more weeks.
Flowers is one of the Sulphur Springs coaches who believes that "The Edge" gave the 2008 football team an edge to avoid injuries and rack up a state championship.
"We had no major injuries," Flowers said. "Before using the program we'd have knees or hamstrings getting hurt. Last year we did not have one major injury. Everyone was in shape, their muscles we right. The program helped the growth of the athletes."
Flowers said "The Edge" also helped build comradery in the team.
"Everybody wants to be a part of it," Flower said. "It's individuals working out, but toward a team goal Everybody wants to be a part of it. It's like a family."
One of the unique aspects of "The Edge" is the participants is not limited to hulking or speedy male athletes. It is open to all high school students involved in athletes from small cheerleaders to 300-pound linemen.
Slender speedster Ashanti Ivery wants her senior year to be a good one as she sweats during "The Edge" as she prepares for participation in basketball and track.
"I want to get faster and stronger, I know this helps me mentally to be sharp," Ivery said. "When basketball starts I will be ready, this is my third year to do this workout. It helps with endurance, I think the squats are fun. The hard part- that's running for me."
Kayla Phillips is another track/basketball athlete who wants to get stronger. "I know ‘The Edge' helps my conditioning. I like working with weights and running to get ready for basketball. I plan on taking at least a week off for vacation, but now I am working out to my season."
Participants said "The Edge" was mandatory for cheerleaders. Katie Dougan and Abby Grand-Lienard will be sophomore cheerleaders when school starts. Dougan also plays softball while Grand-Lienard takes part in soccer and track.
"The workouts help with endurance and I want to have my best year ever as a sophomore," Dougan said.
Grand-Lienard said she likes working out with the athletes from all sports. "It makes you feel confident when you are working out with the football players and you know what they accomplished, winning state. It's the same program, girls really don't get it easy."
Even recent graduates, like Jake Russell, find the benefits of the program. Russell will be attending Texas A&M University and trying to make the football team as a walk-on.
"I could never push myself this hard if I was exercising on my own," Russell remarked. "I am working on my explosiveness and speed. I have been lifting to get bigger, but this is good for me overall. I have done 'The Edge' program every year. Lifting is my favorite, I really hate the 150-yard sprint."
Beau Carpenter, a 6-7 offensive lineman who has plans on attending Texas Tech after high school, echoed what Russell said. "I like lifting, but not the long runs. It help that we all doing the workouts together."
Defensive back Bryant (Day Day) Jackson has one more season with the Wildcats before heading off to the University of Texas to play for the Longhorns.
"These workouts make us stronger as a team, it prevents injury. Nobody wants to sit out hurt, so we do the work," Jackson said. "I really hate the one-leg squat, but we still do it. It gives us the ability to get stronger and faster. I play three sports, I really don't have time to work on gaining weight. I am 188 pounds now and 6-3, so I am trying to get a little heavier, while still staying fast and this helps."
Head boys basketball coach Braughn Curtis said he can tell a difference in the players in his program which work out in “The Edge.”
“You can tell the first day of practice, I have noticed that over the last two years,” Curtis said. “I am glad they are doing this instead of sitting on the couch during the summer.”
Curtis said he was particularly happy to see the younger students in “The Edge.”
“I see some incoming freshmen who were eighth graders working. Those will be guys fighting for spots and they will be in good shape,” Curtis said. “It really makes a difference in the conditioning. Because basketball is such an active game and you are moving all the time. This program really helps. It gives them something in the bucket. We’re really making athletes.”
Flowers was happy with the turnout and said if the students stick with the program it will get easier.
"If they don't do much over the weekend, they will regret it Monday at the 7:45 a.m. when they go back to work," Flowers said. "Most of them have been pretty dedicated and come every day."
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