High school athletes’ practice leads to improvement in teams


 Whether they participate in volleyball, tennis or soccer, all students involved in high school sports devote their time and effort into improving their skills. Many of these athletes attend practice every day of the week, spending almost one or even two hours after school each day preparing for the next game or meet.

Imagine this scenario; the bell signaling the end of the school day has just rung on this average, sunny afternoon. Students pour out of the double doors that line the side of the red brick building.

Most teenagers nonchalantly walk down the sidewalk with their friends or board buses that will take them home so they can begin their homework. A few girls; however, including ninth grader Lindsey Fasolo, don’t do either of these things. Instead, she and her teammates head towards the Altoona Area High School Field House for their daily after-school volleyball practice.Athletes like Fasolo who participate in volleyball and other high school sports often have to devote a big portion of their time to practicing after school and on the weekends. According to Fasolo, this practice really seems to make a difference in the way the volleyball team performs in matches.

“I can notice improvement in our team since the beginning. Our passing has gotten more accurate and the way we see the game has improved,” Fasolo said. “I think this is due to practice because the skills we work on in practice help us win games.”

In addition to volleyball, other high school sports have started to notice improvements in their teams due to hard work put in at practice. Ninth grade tennis player Rachel Billetter noted the transformation of her teammates due to their practice throughout the season.

“When I first started, the way we would warm up was by (the coaches) tossing the ball at us, and we would hit it,” Billetter said. “Towards the middle of the season, they would actually stand on the other side of the net and hit it to us.”

According to Billetter, this change in the way that the tennis players practice shows that the coaches have begun to notice improvements in the way that they play.

 As well as the high school volleyball and tennis players, members of the high school cross country team have begun to see improvement due to practice.

“It seems like the more work that we do, the better we do at meets,” ninth grade cross country runner Kierra Hoffman said.

       This has certainly proved to be true. After  weeks of training, the cross country team was able to defeat State College at the Park Forest Course on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

       “Since we practiced so hard for that week, we beat State College, and we didn’t think it was possible,” Hoffman said.

       The golf team, yet another high school sports team whose players have noticed improvements in their performance, have seen a great amount of progress due to their practice throughout the season.

“We improved dramatically,” ninth grade golf player Nathan Lawhead said. “Golf is all about repetition, so if you just keep repeating shots, you’ll eventually know what to hit.”

According to Lawhead, the amount of practice time is just right because players have enough time to improve their skills by practicing on the practice green and playing nine  holes on the course.

Finally, the soccer team has also seen improvements in the way they perform.

“We started working better together because we started playing together more,” ninth grade soccer player Megan Vigne said.

 An average soccer practice includes running, shooting drills, passing drills, and conditioning, all exercises that improve the players’ skills for games. According to Vigne, at least a quarter of the soccer team’s improvement resulted from these practices.

“I believe that the more practice you have, the better player you are,” said Vigne. “It’s just repetition.”

Practice has had a big influence on the way the Altoona Area High School sports teams perform. The hard work and amount of time put in at these practices has led to noticeable improvement in the teams and players. Because of this, high school athletes are noticing not only their own progress throughout the season, but the progress of their whole team as well. 20131026_135926(0)

Go Lady Lions! Working as a group, freshman cross country runner Kierra Hoffman, sophomore runner Brittany Good, and junior runner Zoe Delozier speed down the District 6 course at Forest Hills on Oct 26. In a fierce race between the AAA junior varsity teams, the girls ran their hardest and managed to lead the Altoona girl’s junior varsity cross country team to a second place victory.
Photo by Ally Fama