Belton athletics sets times for younger athletes
Sunday, 29 July 2012 by David Tuma
It has been ignored for years, but sports at the high school level, is changing in many ways. From girls doing bench press, to running at noon on turf in the mild Texas heat, to a sand pit next to the weight room. If you play high school sports there is a price to pay in time and sweat.
Junior high weight lifting at a top program like Cove, Allen, Longview, Abiline and many others is something that is a must to get to that top level and stay there. Belton's South Belton Junior weight room is the leader in the area and is better than some of the varsity weight rooms in district, but the top programs have those type of facilities already in place.
Belton's varsity weight room is just a tad bigger than Cove's. But Cove's was way ahead of the time when it was built.
This summer at noon after the varsity boys and girls are done the junior high boys begin their workouts on Tiger field and the numbers are impressive. They do the same workouts as the varsity boys and work out with junior high and varsity coaches.
"They run the same plays as we do and they have the same workouts as the older players. Every year since Rodney Southern has been here it has been the same from seventh grade through varsity. The biggest thing with the younger players who are still maturing is the mental part. By the time you get to high school everything from the plays to the work out is second nature," said Durham Smythe.
Working out is part of both women's sports and men's. Smythe has grown tremendously in the past two season but he has worked and worked to get to where he is today as one of the top high school tightends in the country.
"Kids see players like Smythe that weighed 190 a few years ago and they want to be like him. They understand that you have to start early. They see the results of working out both on the field and off. College recruiters coming here to visit players is a big part of it. Kids love the new weight room. If you don't work out you fall behind and our administration support is crucial," said David Brewer.
Belton's staff from Rodney Southern to the junior high coaches, pushing to be the best is a key part of Belton's unmatched participation in sports. "I think our great participation starts with our junior high staff. They stress to the kids the importance of lifting weights. Those kids come in here and see how physically developed our varsity players are and that helps them understand what it takes to play at that level," said Brewer.
It is important to the junior high players that they are doing the same lifts as the big boys in the same weight room. It means something to be in the same room as varsity, on the same field, doing the same skills.
If you have ever seen a LaMarque little league football team with five stars on their helmet wearing the same uniform as the Friday night team, you might understand. Five stars for five state championships, and kids notice this.
"My class was the beginning of all this. They run the same plays as we do because if you think on a football field you have already lost," said Smythe. "With all the competition across the state if you aren't working out in junior high you are two year's behind when you get to high school."
Smythe was at the workout at noon last week because Belton uses some varsity players to work with the kids.
Smythe recently came back to the world wide football tournament held in Austin this past season as part of the Under-19 national football team. "What was amazing is how close we came in just two weeks. It was awesome to be on a team with players from all over the country. Different teams had different personalities. Somoa was very physical. It was more than just sore after that game. They played every down of the game. Canada was disciplined. They weren't as athletic but they were well coached. I was surprised at how close I became to the players on the team," said Smythe.