A Lion’s grind never stops: Offseason training

Sam Chiang, Staff Writer

The Maccabi Games in Atlanta, the Water Polo Junior Olympics in Newport Beach, and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Volleyball nationals in Orlando. These are not part of a typical summer for high school students. Over the course of summer, several of the school’s athletes trained rigorously to improve their skills, took the opportunity to play at a highly competitive level, and networked with college coaches.

Elite camps give coaches a chance to evaluate players’ potential, while also giving players a chance to evaluate a college’s program and talk with coaches, Zoë Swift (11) said. Swift, a member of the Girls’ Varsity Volleyball Team, played at college showcases in order to gain experience playing volleyball at a competitive collegiate level, she said. “I trained with girls from all over the country, some of whom I’ve met through other camps, or played against throughout the club season.”

At the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics in Newport Beach, California, Max Chasin (9) and his Chelsea Piers club team placed into the gold-platinum division, the highest division of the tournament, and finished as the 35th best team in the country, he said.

“It was a really exciting experience, in our last game, my team and I found ourselves winning in the last seconds with a great stop on defense to win ten to nine,” Max Chasin said. Unable to train with his team while at sleep away camp, he swam in the lake as much as possible. However, before camp started, he attended practices for two hours a day for six days a week in order to get faster and stronger, he said.

Harrison Winter (11), a member of the Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse Team, also played at different college showcases and attended tournaments with his club team, the Long Island Express Channenchuk. “We motivated each other to lift more in the gym and practiced new sets and plays together on the field,” he said. “We competed in eight tournaments this summer and won the National Lacrosse Federation Championship, an invitational tournament that features the best club teams from around the nation,” Winter said.

Similarly, Ben Chasin (11), a member of the Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team, attended showcases and trained in camps at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, and an All-Academic camp where 75 Division III schools that have strong academics come to recruit, he said. “I trained for many hours every day, not only playing basketball, but also doing a ton of strength and conditioning as well which allowed me to greatly improve my game,” he said.

Ailill Walsh (10), another member of the Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team, also trained over the summer by playing on an AAU team, KING Hoops, and a street ball team, Team FENOM, he said. He also attended the Hoop Group Academic Elite camp in Pennsylvania along with Columbia’s elite basketball camp to play in front of scouts, he said.

Some students traveled overseas for training over the summer. Sidh Chawla (12) trained at an intense tennis academy in Spain, he said. “The advantage of going to Spain is that the coaches are really dedicated to hard work and fitness so they don’t let you get off without putting in 100% effort,” Chawla said. Most of the other players at the academy tended to be from Europe or Spain, he said. Another advantage of playing at the academy was being able to play against many different play styles because of the different surfaces, he said. “Spain is home to some of the most beautiful red clay courts in the world.”

In order to improve their games, many athletes set a goal for themselves to accomplish over the summer. “I wanted to improve my universal tennis rating, which is a system every tennis player is rated on,” Chawla said.“I trained with a combination of tennis drills directed towards flexibility, endurance, and strength,” he said. “I improved my rating a ton thanks to a good work ethic and I hope to continue playing college at the varsity or club level,” Chawla said.

Looking to take her game to the next level and network with college coaches, Swift attended volleyball camps after AAU Volleyball Nationals in mid-June, she said. Her goal was to improve as a player by incorporating new techniques and tips from coaches into her game, she said.

Hoping to be committed by next summer, Swift connected with different college coaches to communicate with them during the club season, she said.

“My goal this summer was to improve all parts of my game from fitness to mechanics,” Ben Chasin said. Over the summer, Ben Chasin trained with his AAU team, the New York Lightning, and won the Northeast Hoops Tournament along with the Providence Jam Fest. He also won a bronze medal at the Maccabi Games, a multi-sport event for Jewish athletes. He had quickly accepted the offer because of the unique opportunity to play against 18 other teams of Jewish athletes from communities around the world, he said. However, Ben Chasin’s focus wasn’t just on this summer as he has his sights set on the future and hopes to play basketball at an Ivy League School or a Division III school with strong academics, he said.

Similarly, Walsh also worked on his game by making 150-200 shots a day, he said. One of Walsh’s smaller goals was to be able to consistently dunk which meant he needed to do more leg exercises, such as squats and calf raises, he said. Walsh was able to dunk more consistently at the end of the summer and is one step closer to reaching his max potential as a high school player, he said. “I’ve invested so much time in basketball that I feel I would greatly regret not playing in college, so even if I don’t play at an elite school, I’d still like to live out that dream of playing at the next level.”

“Although training over the summer can be grueling, I had a lot of fun playing with my street ball team,” Walsh said. “New York City is known for having some of the most competitive and talented street ball players in the country, so it was a great experience to play against top notch competition in front of enthusiastic crowds.”