The Raiders’ relative struggles in recent years have left tenth-year Reed coach Jason Saville looking to mix up his program’s routine a bit. The veteran coach has long offered non-mandatory conditioning workouts for his players, starting in late July. Those will still be offered, but for only the final two weeks before official tryouts begin on Aug. 17.
What Saville has put together this summer is a bit out of the norm, but he believes it could pay huge dividends. Saville invited 19 RHS student athletes, returning varsity players and new potential varsity players, to attend individualized team workouts at MRI (Maximum Results Inc.). The workouts began July 8 and Saville likes what he’s seeing.
“The girls are running stairs. They’re touching the ball through some courses and doing stuff where they have to show agility, technique and speed all after working hard,” Saville said. “One of the first things to go when you get tired is your technical skills. What’s awesome is these girls get whooped and beat up pretty good before they touch a ball. Then they have to go execute their technical skills after they’re tired and they have to do it precisely as well.
“It requires mental focus. The workouts kind of reenact the last 15 minutes of a game when you’re worn out. You might be chasing a goal or tied and trying to win a game. The team that’s more mentally prepared is going to be better off.”
Saville said he got the idea to try the workouts after his daughter’s club team utilized them. He saw the hard work pay off for the younger girls and he thought why not give it a shot with his high school squad.
“We give the girls, in the spring, a summer conditioning packet, but if we’re being honest, I’m not sure how many girls actually do it,” Saville said. “So this is one way to ensure they’re getting what they need to get before the season starts. It’s a quick season. We’re trying to get out front with regards to fitness. We’re not the biggest of teams. So we’re doing some of this strength training to be a little bit more physical as well. The last couple years, have not been one of the more physical teams.
“When you’re bigger, faster and stronger, you can dictate tempo and stuff like that on the soccer field. This training can cure a lot of the things that ailed us. It can prepare us to get a good jump on the season.”
Much like an offseason camp, the Reed girls have paid a registration fee to MRI in order to participate. Saville said the workouts should prove to be an invaluable way to get his athletes engaged in the team concept. He said the workouts are far from a cakewalk and that his players are finding a common bond by completing them collectively on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“These are tough,” he said. “If they do this together, I also think it help us with team chemistry. The fact they’ve all gone through this boot camp together is a shared experience that brings them together as a team. Team chemistry has been an issue for us the last couple years. This is the first time in a couple years that our chemistry is pretty solid and that’s advantageous to us as a program.”
Saville isn’t the only one who feels that way.
“This is bringing us closer together and preparing us to be ready for the new season,” said Aubrie Ciesynski, a senior captain for the Raiders. “They’re pushing us to compete and defeat.
“We’re building our upper bodies so when we face hard challenges, and face bigger girls, we hold on to the ball. We’re working on our touches being quick and powerful. We’re building up our legs, running stairs ... when you’re done, you know it’s worth it.”
Junior Kendra Bujnovsky echoed those sentiments
“I think everyone really likes them. The chemistry on our team is better this year. I think it will be good for us,” she said. “I think we’ll be a lot more fit than we have been the last few years. It’s tough, but it’s really good for us.”
Saville said when the high school season is done in November he’ll evaluate how much the summer conditioning workouts helped his squad, but right now he does not see much of a down side. The girls have bought in and committed to trying something new while improving their fitness all while doing it together.
“If the girls can fight through what’s being thrown at them, they can handle anything,” Saville said. “They’re halfway done and seem to be enjoying it. That’s the biggest thing. It’s testing their mind and body. It’s just a really good experience. I’m sure the returning kids next year will want to make it a tradition.”