By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The MHSAA’s inaugural “Prep Rally” contest was born this spring to help us teach athletes the importance of staying in shape during the offseason – while showing them fun ways to do so.
And like with our MHSAA “Battle of the Fans” contest during the past two winters, we learned a few things from our Prep Rally participants – most notably, that athletes during the school year enjoy staying active during the offseason. And especially if that activity includes a creative challenge or two.
Following are brief stories behind our three finalists for this summer's contest, which was part of the MHSAA’s PLAY (Preparation Lasts All Year) initiative designed to encourage athletes to remain active during the offseason so they are prepared physically and acclimated to warm weather when practice begins in the fall.
Thanks to all who submitted applications – we hope this is just the start of your helping us tell more athletes the best and most enjoyable ways to stay in shape and get ready for competition. The inaugural Prep Rally winner will be announced Monday on Second Half and be awarded tickets to an MHSAA Final of their choice, at which they will be recognized for their accomplishment.
Not surprising given Michigan’s abundance of woods and water, outdoor activities were a dominant theme of the inaugural Prep Rally.
Here’s a look at our finalists:
Beal City: Game Changers
“For many students the summer is simply a time to kick back, relax, hang out on the couch and play video games. However, this is not the case for Beal City athletes,” sophomore Billy Chilman wrote.
“When we are not training for our championship teams on the field or in the classroom, we are always looking for new ways to stay fit and have fun. Whether it’s going to Coldwater Lake, to boat, knee board, ski or tube, we always seem to find something active to do.”
And that led to ATV tubing.
In essence, a four-wheeler on one bank of a small pond pulls the rider, sitting on a snow sled, across the pond. “It was also a great workout, improving our balance and upper body strength,” Chillman added.
Fenton: Into the Woods
A team that will spend all fall in the pool spends a valuable part of it offseason prep on dry land.
Fenton girls swimming and diving team journeys away from home leading up to every season. This summer it headed to Pigeon River Country State Forest near Vanderbilt at the northern end of the Lower Peninsula for a three-day “survival trip.”
Plans included a four-mile hike to the first camp, followed by 4-5 mile hikes to each day to a new camp site.
The team also was divided into four smaller squads that competed in challenges as well as setting up camp, building fires and cooking meals.
“The purpose of the trip is to provide some physical conditioning as well as a team-building activity,” Fenton coach Brad Jones wrote in the Tigers’ submission.
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett: Crossing the Isle
Seniors Hannah Hodges and Danielle Lorant participate in three sports together during the school year – cross country, hockey and soccer – so staying in shape over the summer is especially key.
This summer, that included a five-day backpacking trip at Isle Royale National Park as part of a program hosted by Michigan Tech University.
The Knights’ pair hiked 45 miles while carrying 50 pounds of supplies in backpacks. To prepare for the trip, Hodges and Lorant went on weekly hikes closer to home at Stoney Creek Metropolitan Park, Island Lake State Recreation Area and Algonac State Park – which built endurance but also allowed for an opportunity to test their gear.
“Backpacking on Isle Royale granted the chance to interact in nature and connect with other Michigan high school athletes who also participated in the trip, and to stay in good physical condition,” Hodges wrote in her submission.
“This trip demonstrated that there are other ways to stay in shape over the summer besides participating in the sports that we play during the school year.”