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Gators, Blue Devils pass summer days between seasons

    Managing a team full of teenagers during any point of the year can be tough for a head coach, but the summer time proves to add certain challenges when it comes to getting the best out of their players.
     Whether it’s family vacations, trips to the beach or just the excitement of school finally ending, coaches have had to find ways to work around the summer schedule.
    Bulloch Academy High School wrestling coach Andy Tomlin said it was a successful summer for the Gators. Not only did the team stay active by scheduling several summer camps, the team also offered various weightlifting programs throughout the week.
    “It’s definitely a balancing act,” said Tomlin, who is also the head coach of the Bulloch Academy middle school football team. “You have kids that you try to get ready for the winter, but at the same time I have to get my middle school kids ready as well.
    “If we’re not doing camps, then we’re in the weight room four days out of the week. The only days we take off are Fridays. We have kids who are competing every single day in the weight room.”
    Tomlin said the help of his assistant coach Kevin Ulmer has attributed to the Gators’ success in the offseason. Ulmer schedules training sessions with some of the lightweight and middleweight wrestlers who are looking to improve before the start of the regular season. Because Ulmer trains just one or two wrestlers at a time, the team is still within the guidelines of GISA rules.
    “The summers are pretty busy for us, but it’s all worth it in the end. In order to win in the winter, you have to put in the extra time. It’s like a culture change,” Tomlin said.
    However, the process of changing the summer workout culture didn’t happen over night, Tomlin said. The four-time GISA AAA Region 3 Coach of the Year said having such a hectic schedule in the summer began to take a toll mentally.
    “It’s tough. That’s one thing that a lot of people don’t see. Its kind of one of those thankless jobs and now people are starting to expect it.  The parents expect all the workouts. At first it’s not a big deal, but then year after year of not having a summer begins to get monotonous,” Tomlin said. “But you have to embrace the grind. When you see those kids improve from where they were to where they are now it’s worth it. I would get bored silly if I didn’t go up there and talk to the kids and tell them what to do in the weight room.”
    For Statesboro High School head volleyball coach Bob Massee, the summer workout schedule underwent a few minor adjustments in recent years.
    Instead of the Lady Blue Devils practicing three days a week for two hours, the team changed to practice jut two days a week for three hours at a time.
    Massee said he feels the team can get more work done with the longer practice hours.
    “It feels like we’re getting a lot more out of it. Coming from a coaching background, when I was growing up summers were like three months long, but now summers aren’t but six weeks,” Massee said.  “The first year I started I felt like we had to have a lot of practices and we would have like three practices in a week, but since we have gotten a bit more experience we moved to two days a week.”
    Massee, who has a two-year-old son and a newborn baby, said the team works from June 1 up until the start of the academic school year. The summer schedule can get hectic for Massee, but said having a supportive family who understands his work ethic helps.
    “I have a supportive wife that also comes from a coaching family as well. She understands volleyball is my passion and love and she would always want to support me no matter what,” Massee said. “So if that means sometimes the toddler may have to come to practice than that’s what it is.”
    Massee said the sport of volleyball gives the team a little more time during the regular season to bond together and grow.
    Massee said he would enjoy the last week of his summer break before getting ready for the school year and a new season.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.