Rustler athletes make use of summer to prepare for season

For many Rustlers, the term “fall athlete” can be deceiving.

That’s because CMR’s football, soccer, volleyball, cross country, and golf athletes work on their sports all summer long. Athletes attend camps as a team, work out, and have open gyms in order to prepare for the fall sports season. Despite all of this, practices didn’t officially start until Aug. 15 for golf, Aug. 16 for football, and Aug. 19 for volleyball, soccer, and cross country.

Senior Tiffany Lefebre found herself up at 7 a.m. from Monday to Thursday during the summer to prepare for this fall’s cross country season. Lefebre said that about 10 athletes came every morning to train, as well as the two cross country coaches, Doug Darko and Nathan Gregier. The team warmed up together and completed a run between three and seven miles, according to Lefebre.

As the cross country season is so short, Lefebre said she values the pre-season as a time to get to know her teammates, as well as a time for preparation. Meeting with the team during the summer to work out “is about going out and doing some running.” Summer workouts get the runners in shape, so they can make the most out of the brief season. Lefebre said her ultimate goal for this year is to have a good time and stay in tip-top shape. “That’s what it’s all about,”she said.

According to senior Gwen Malisani, a captain of the girls soccer squad, her team attended camp in July at Carroll College in Helena. Malisani said the team went hard three times a day, scrimmaging and playing games such as world cup. Scrimmaging helps the team “to see who’s playing well in what position,” Malisani, a 2012 all-conference pick at goalkeeper, said.

In addition to the camp, the team also had open gyms twice a week for one hour from the end of June until the beginning of the season in August. Open gyms were usually attended by about 15 girls. Malisani stressed the importance of staying in contact with the team and getting to know new players to the program. As for how the summer activities will benefit the Lady Rustlers this fall, Malisani said, “[We] didn’t take any time off and kept improving.”

Senior Kylie Otis, a defensive specialist in the back row, said the volleyball team also was working on its game during the summer. According to Otis, the team had open gyms twice a week. She said open gym was mostly for scrimmaging to simulate games, while technical parts of the game of volleyball were saved for the beginning of the season. Otis’ goal for the season is to “be competitive at all times and win some games.”

Open gyms were especially important for the volleyball players this year as the team welcomes new coach Stephanie Anderson to the Lady Rustler volleyball program. “We were all comfortable around her and she helped team unity,” said Otis, of open gyms with Anderson.

For Rustler football players, the season extends far beyond not just the fall, but also the summer. Junior Matt Grooms said the team meets for open gyms from February to May in order to be ready to open the football season in the fall. Grooms, a defensive end, said the team also attended football camp at the University of Montana in June. The camp is, “a fundamental thing working on your specific position,” as well as an opportunity to scrimmage, often against small schools, according to Grooms.

“It really helps us build team unity and become a better player,” Grooms said of the camp, which was attended by enough Rustlers to form a varsity and underclassman team. Athletes use the camp to work on intricate aspects of football so players can focus on big picture concepts during the season, according to Grooms. “We expect the same as we expect every year: a state championship,” he said.

Montana high school golfers not only practice their individual games during the summer, but they also start their season well before school opens its doors. CMR’s golfers had a tournament in Billings Aug 19-20 and in Great Falls on Aug 26-27. Junior Mark Solomon thinks having golf as a fall sport is important because of the state’s weather.

“Usually playing in the fall is better than playing in the spring in Montana,” said Solomon, citing rain and snow in the spring months that would not be ideal golf weather.

Although Solomon said he dislikes how quickly the golf season ends, (state golf is Oct. 1-2 this year in Missoula) the season length helps golfers with their school work. Solomon said golf finishes right when school starts to get more difficult, leaving him more time to focus on school.

Still, while golf season is in progress, Solomon will be focusing on his game in order to achieve his ultimate goal: “to win the state tournament as an individual and contribute to helping the CMR boys win the team title.”