NORTH CANTON Time isn’t just valuable on Friday nights for high school football teams.
It’s just as important, if not more so, on a random Tuesday morning on the field in an empty stadium or going through exercises in the weight room next door. Hoover senior receiver Brady Nist is getting ready for his final season of high school football and with 75 percent of the high school games he’ll ever play already in the rearview mirror, the remaining time he has in uniform means even more.
“Time … in practice, July just started and the practices went from two hours to three and a half, and you kind of go into it thinking that you’ve got to be here three and a half hours, but once it’s over for the day, you think it flew by because you really do have a good time as much you don’t think you do,” Nist said.
Time is always an issue for teams no matter what time of year it is. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules limit when, how and for how long coaches can schedule and lead offseason activities and at times, that puts the burden on players to police their own time working out and conditioning.
There are times for team activities in the winter and spring and because of the OHSAA limits on offseason schedules, making the most of those opportunities is a top priority for teams and players from every division and region of the state. While there is certainly a dose of levity and joking around to keep things light at times, for the majority of a given lifting session or workout, coaches want athletes to take care of their business and stay locked in on the task at hand.
For Nist, one of the ways to make those times more enjoyable and also get more work done is by finding a fellow senior teammate who can spot for and motivate him in the weight room.
“As a senior, the winter lifting and conditioning and the spring conditioning flew by and I think I made the most of that time with (senior linebacker) Will Reisinger, he’s in my grade and helped me lift and keep pushing,” Nist said. “But time … it’s coming closer to August and time for games. Absolutely, June flies by, July flies by, then August hits and two a days, so that goes a little bit slower, but summer does go quick.”
That experience is true for virtually all students regardless of their grade level and whether or not they play a sport. When school first lets out in late May, the summer seems like an infinite span of time, full of chances to relax, travel, hang out with friends and enjoy all kinds of fun activities.
But as the summer heats up and one gets lost in the midst of all of the fun, time zips right on by and suddenly, it’s time to start shopping for school supplies and getting ready to reluctantly return to the classroom.
When a student’s senior year rolls around, that experience is magnified because no longer are there years of school still ahead. It’s the last go-around and for athletes, that also means years of work and looking up to older teammates fade into their one and only shot to be their team’s elder statesmen.
“Being a freshman and sophomore, mostly a sophomore, you’re mostly a tackling dummy for the older guys and you’re just waiting for your time to become a senior. Now you’re it and it’s a great feeling … you’ve got to take the leadership role,” Nist said.
During winter, spring and summer, putting in so much time and effort to improve, get stronger and earn playing time can seem like small drops in a huge bucket, but according to Nist, the chance to shine on Friday nights in front of friends, family and the community validate that hard work.
“Once you get to the Friday nights, it’s all worth it,” he noted. “I’ll look back on this as a great decision playing football and my dad, who played football in high school, and my grandpa, they say the same thing, it’s some of the best years of their lives.”
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB