Aug. 20, 2009
Our third day of preseason starts in a similar way to the first two, with a fitness test at 7:00 a.m. The team gathers in the locker room shortly after 6:00 a.m., and has a light snack of breakfast foods before heading out to our practice facilities to meet the coaches and our strength and conditioning coach, Mark Thobe.
After a light jog and stretch to loosen our already heavy legs, we are split into two groups to run the "120 Test" which is so named because of the distance covered during one level of the test. It consists of 20 levels (down the field and back again equaling one level), each of which must be completed in a given time. The first ten levels are 25 seconds down, and 35 seconds to return. The remaining ten levels decrease in time given to sprint one length of the field (1/2 level), and therefore get more difficult as the test progresses. The last few levels are only given 15, 14, and finally 13 seconds to complete the full field sprint, and the test becomes a challenge for even the fittest of players.
After the fitness run, half the team participates in a pool workout in the Rec Plex, and the other half does some work in the weight room. I am one of the 15 guys in the weight room, and we are kept busy completing a circuit of pushups, pullups, front/side raises, and pillar variations before having a broad jump competition for points. Not surprisingly, Jeff Popella and Ryan Hartman take top points in the event, as Hartman continues his dominance of the points race which wraps up at the end up preseason and the winner is awarded the "Red Jersey."
Breakfast at Kennedy Union is the best time of the day for me. We file into the student union and head for my favorite dining hall, where we load up on chocolate milk, eggs, yogurt, and all other goodness we can find to refuel our bodies.
We head back to the training field for a short technical session. The sun is out, and the heat and humidity are in full force. I load up with SPF 35, but the sun is brutal and my pale skin bakes in the early afternoon sky. Coach keeps us busy, however, with short drills designed to get us lots of touches on the ball and find a rhythm with tired legs. We end the session with a juggling competition that Alex Torda, our top returning scorer and Herman Trophy candidate, wins after out-lasting sophomore bodybuilding guru Michael Dehyle.
Lunch at Virginia W. Kettering dining hall. The long walk up Stuart hill gives us a chance to cool down after our showers, and we get to enjoy the buffet-style offerings of VWK. I snack on some Santa Fe chicken over rice and a bowl of fruit.
We come together for a team meeting in the basement of the Frericks Center. Coach puts on a video showcasing some international highlights, and then gives a lecture on team expectations, and the qualities that define a Dayton soccer player.
Training session at NCR. We warm-up with some dynamic stretching drills led by Coach Kiki Lara, and then dive right into formation work. We work on our defensive shaping, both individually and as a unit, and coach explains to the newcomers exactly how our system works in certain game situations. We end with another competition for points, and then head back to the locker room for showers before walking to dinner.