Training Gets Middle School Athletes To Peak Performance
• Peninsula High holds special Tuesday training sessions for middle school athletes looking for top performance on and off the field.
The number of athletes playing high school football in California continues to dwindle, as fewer teenagers find the value in playing football for their school.
Although what once was a highly esteemed sport, whose athletes were given special treatment, now a number of California high schools are finding it difficult to muster a sufficient number of players to suit up against opposing teams.
Peninsula High faced a similar problem in 2016 when its program was shut down due to the large number of injuries as the season progressed.
Football is not defined by just the physical aspects fans see on the field. It is also about the camaraderie that the players develop through the long hours together on the practice field and in the weight room.
A brotherhood is developed through the pain, sweat and tears that each player endures in order to help his team. Football requires dedication and the commitment of time through the physically draining practices that players go through everyday. No other sport quite literally forces kids to work well and effectively with others.
Football also brings students out of their homes and off their couches, where they could be wasting time playing video games or gluing their eyes on their phones.
It enforces time management onto students as well, since they must get their homework and studying done and keep their grades up while they dedicate themselves to the sport.
Peninsula High senior Wyatt Chang has a 4.6 GPA and is a three-year varsity football member.
“Managing football and school work was extremely difficult, but it has also taught me valuable time management skills that I can apply to my work for the rest of my life. Even though it was tough, I managed to succeed both athletically and academically.” Chang said.
This past season, the Peninsula football program turned its story around, and turned heads on the Hill, under coach David Young. The Panthers finished with a 3-2 record in Bay League and 9-5 record overall, losing in the CIF-SS Division 11 Championship to Western High School.
The program that was once brought to its knees, fought its way back onto its feet.
What is especially commendable is the special few students who dedicated their four years to the program, during and after the program was shut down.
Their dedication inspired more students to join their cause and continues to be recognized by their classmates today.
As one of those players, Chang said, “the impact Coach Young has made on the program can’t accurately be illustrated in words. The work he’s done to turn the program around extends beyond the X’s and O’s of football. He’s helped to create young men who are better now than when they joined. He’s pushed his players to levels most didn’t expect was possible. This directly translates to aspects outside of football and has given many of his players the confidence and drive they need to succeed in their future endeavors.”
In an effort to keep the movement going, and perhaps inspire some more kids, Coach Young has started a youth camp for 6th, 7th and 8th grade athletes that would like to improve their strength, fitness and flexibility for their upcoming sports season.
“The purpose of the youth camp,” Young said, “ is to teach correct methods of strength training along with the understanding that flexibility has a lot to do with an athletes performance. The training sessions have proven to be successful for us in the sense that we have been able to get younger athletes moving in the right direction as it comes to their personal health and fitness,“ Young said.
“Getting kids onto Peninsula’s campus is another plus because it displays all the great things that go on at Peninsula and it gives some insight to the younger athletes to what they can expect if they were to attend Peninsula in the future,” he said.
Coach Young aims not to just limit the opportunity for future football players, but for any middle schooler in the community who just wants to work on their personal strength.
“The camp is for any athlete in the area that is a 6th, 7th or 8th grade student. You do not need to be a football player to attend the workouts. Each work out is designed for the multi sport athlete and is enriching to any athlete seeking to find a new and better way to workout.” said Young.
“Football gives kids more than just a sport,” Chang said. “It gives them something to believe in. We learned to believe in ourselves and went from forfeiting a season to the CIF Finals in our careers at Peninsula. It teaches players the value of hard work and persistence. Just as importantly, it gives kids a group of friends that will have their back no matter what.”