Athletes compete in summer practices

Reed City's Alison Duddles focuses on defense.
Reed City's Alison Duddles focuses on defense.

REED CITY — Most successful high school athletes and teams probably don’t take much time off during the summer.

In fact, many coaches and players regard summer as possibly the most important time of year to build success for the upcoming season.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association limits the number of dates most sports teams can use during the summer for practices and scrimmages.

The MHSAA mandates schools take off a designated week during the summer for “dead time,” and many in the area will do it during Independence Day week.

Baseball and softball teams are having summer games, while basketball, football, volleyball and other sports are also having conditioning sessions and various types of workouts.

Many sports teams participate in camps sponsored by Ferris State University.

Morley Stanwood boys basketball coach and former Pine River coach Bob Raven has been at it for many years.

“We went to two team camps (Ferris and Saginaw Valley) and a three-week league at Morey courts, also a four-team scrimmage at Pine River,” Raven said. “This is about the same as last year. It is an opportunity for players to play in off-season. It is not mandatory. To be honest, if the MHSAA would come out and say we couldn’t do anything in the summer, I would be OK with that. Unfortunately, I think someone would find a way around that and still do it.

“In my years, I have noticed that more high school coaches are going away from college camps and hosting their own shootouts to cut the cost down.”

Pine River has had a long-time winning tradition in both boys and girls sports, with an active summer program being among the reasons.

“The main reason I do a summer program is to begin building team chemistry,” Pine River girls basketball coach Brandon Bowman said. “It’s an opportunity for girls to begin bonding together and get their excitement for the upcoming season rolling. I’m doing about the same amount as last year.”

“The summer sessions are very important for our team,” boys basketball coach Brian Goodenow said. “It’s the first opportunity for the next year’s team to begin to bond and grow together. We are doing about the same number of camps and workouts as past years.

“Our participation levels have been at or near 100 percent. Our guys are very excited about the 2018-19 season.”

All other sports are obviously active in some regard and have various camps. Cross country runners and track athletes log many miles and some partake in road runs, marathons and other activities.

Ferris summer camps included a 7-on-7 football passing camp which brought in several schools on Thursday. Teams played at Top Taggart Field and Ferris’ practice fields. Reed City was among the participating schools.

“The summer program is critical for strength/development and injury prevention,” Reed City football coach Monty Price said. “Our camps also provide our athletes with opportunities to enhance their individual skill set. Our summer program has been consistent for the past 10 years or so. Participation, especially at the varsity level, is always very good. The majority of our varsity athletes attend 100 percent of the scheduled opportunities.”