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Local prep programs take different approaches to Finals Week
by Kayla Dubchansky
Jan 19, 2010 | 785 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Senior Reed guard Tyler Pine (with ball) drives into the lane during the Raiders Tuesday afternoon workout.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Senior Reed guard Tyler Pine (with ball) drives into the lane during the Raiders Tuesday afternoon workout.
For athletes attending high schools in the Washoe County school district, this week means finals for students in all of their classes. It also means that student-athletes cannot compete in games or matches during the week so they can focus on their school work instead of sports.

Local coaches have each determined a different path to take with practices throughout the week in order to accommodate their athletes’ scholastic needs. For some, like coach Spanish Springs wrestling coach Joe Imelli, practices have been shortened.

Imelli said that the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association (NIAA) limits the length of time athletic teams can practice per day this week. For high school varsity programs, athletes may only practice two hours a day, which is the average that most teams practice on a regular basis.

For the Cougars wrestling squad, Imelli usually practices from 3 p.m. until 5:15. This week he has adjusted the team’s schedule to 3 to 4:30 p.m. Imelli said the team is focusing on getting in some good stretches and tough drills while trimming the period athletes wrestle each other.

“I try to tell the kids, I want to keep them real intense, a short focused practice,” Imelli said. “Sometimes that’s hard to do, depending on the kids you have year to year. We have a bunch of seniors in there and you know how seniors are with finals. Their attention span can be minimal at times.”

Imelli and his squad will gear up on Friday after the students’ last final to head to Fernley for a tournament this weekend. Imelli isn’t worried about his team’s mental focus for the upcoming weekend.

“All varsity guys will make regionals regardless of what happens in league,” he said. “They have an entirely different focus.”

For Reed wrestling, not much has changed this week. The lone difference is in practice time. With an early release from school, the Raiders are working out at noon rather than 3 p.m.

“The kids can get out early,” Reed assistant coach Dennis Payne said. “They get home, get studying done and be ready for their finals that day. It’s better than having them leave and come back for normal practice times.”

Payne said the Reed squad has no worries since it does not have dual meet over the week.

“It’s an equal playing field for the Washoe County schools,” Payne said. “Everybody has to take a break through the season anyhow. The only ones that can compete during this week are like Carson and Fallon because they are outside of the Washoe County ... When they have finals, their school may put in the same restriction. It’s not going to hurt anybody.”

For local hoops programs, teams usually play two or three games in a week but that won’t be the case for some of the local squads.

After three homes wins last week, the Sparks boys program will have back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday this weekend. Sparks has shortened it’s practices to an hour and 15 minutes, down from two hours.

“We’re going about an hour 15 on the floor really hard. We’re still lifting and doing video … I think we need to shorten practices and just hit it real hard. I think we’ll be ready for Friday and Saturday,” Sparks coach Dick Lee said.

Other coaches, like Reed boys basketball coach Dustin Hall and Spanish Springs girls coach Christine Eckles have not shortened practices or made significant changes.

Hall moved up his team’s practices to get them home earlier than usually, after giving the team Saturday off and going easy for the first part of the week.

“The next two days we’ll be getting after it,” Hall said. “I’ve never seen a team with this many great students. They’re really an intelligent group. They shouldn’t have too many troubles with their finals.”

For the Cougars, Eckles has not changed anything this week, keeping her team consistent and believing that the girls should be able to handle some time management.

“We talk to the kids a lot, all season, about having time-management skills,” Eckles said. “Starting (Wednesday) they’re out of school by lunch time. It’s good for them to spend time studying instead of goofing around … We don’t really change much about it. We keep the structure that we set in place. Sports are good about teaching kids to managing their time.”

Additionally, Eckles believes that student-athletes can learn to focus on what tasks they have at hand, knowing that in the future professional world they will have to be able to balance their lives as well at work.

“They need to work around it … In a ‘real world’ job, you figure out you have big reports due or end-of-the-year budgets are due,” she said. “It’s another life lesson that sports can give them.”

The Spanish Springs girls host McQueen on Friday and have been gearing up for that this week.

“We’re just still focusing on playing good team defense and working a little bit on our offense,” Eckles said. “We’re, getting a lot more shooting in than we probably would with a game just on Tuesday.”

Reed girls hoop coach Sara Schopper had a similar idea with her team, only practicing an hour earlier than usual. The Raiders had Saturday and Sunday off over the weekend and practiced on Monday morning, allowing the squad to get in some study time Monday afternoon and evening.

Schopper said Tuesday the students didn’t start school until 11 a.m. and needed to focus on handling their time.

“The student part is always the No. 1 for us,” Schopper said. “They’re pretty on top of their grades. I have a pretty smart team … They’ve had a couple study sessions. I feel they do a good job balancing both student and athlete.”

Schopper said it was unfortunate her squad could not take time off, but with key league games against Reno and North Valleys coming up this weekend, she didn’t feel her team could afford to take any practice time out of the routine.
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