Ryerson athlete: a full-time job

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While most Ryerson sports teams are finished competing, many are preparing for next season by training on a full-time basis. Harlan Nemers reports

Running from one side of the squash court to the other, Shannon Cosgrove chases the soccer ball as her teammates play keep away. Gasping for breath she strides forward with her left knee outstretched and manages to swiftly steal the ball from her teammate.

“[Practicing in the squash courts] really teaches us how to defend and makes our touches better,” said Cosgrove, who is a first-year midfielder for the women’s soccer team.

“It works on out-thinking your defender.”

Cosgrove works on speed, passing and defending skills twice a week at the Recreation and Athletic Centre (RAC). Soccer is just one of Ryerson’s many Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) teams that look to boost their strength and conditioning in the off-season.

In her next drill, Cosgrove has to foot handle the ball around a cone as another teammate does the same on the opposite side. The goal is to try and fake out the cone, which represents an opposing player, with a powerful sidestep.

“Basically, what we’re doing is working a fundamental skill set … in position-specific drills,” said Kevin Souter, the assistant coach of the men’s soccer team who is currently training with the women’s soccer team.

“The goal is to provide a strong foundation for the upcoming season.”

The players on the women’s soccer team train anywhere between one and three hours a week.

“During the summer, [the] majority of them are playing with their own team like the Markham soccer club,” said Ramin Mohammadi, the interim head coach of the women’s soccer team.

“If not, then we try to book a field and try to play against other clubs with players who are available.”

Those who are not playing for an outside club team schedule training sessions that focus more on agility, speed, and strength, as well as body movements.

“It doesn’t really matter where they do it as long as they can compete come Aug. 15,” said Mohammadi. “They need to keep up with the fitness program if they want to stay in the program.”

Stephanie White, head coach of the women’s hockey team, said proper off-season training is a vital component to a successful team.

“The off-season is the time for the biggest gains in your conditioning and overall fitness,” White said.

“During the season you don’t really have the opportunity [to train]. It’s really important that they keep the task at hand and it’s only going to improve their game throughout the season.”

This year marks the first time the women’s hockey team will take part in a serious off-season training program, as they have achieved official OUA status for the upcoming season.

But unlike most off-season training programs that have athletes training between two and four times a week, White’s program will have her players practicing up to six times a week.

“You do fitness testing to see where they are at the end of the season. And then when they come back at the end of the season that’s where you’re going to see the gains,” she said.

“If there are no improvements it could be conditions for the athlete not to make the team.”

While not as intense as White’s program, Mirek Porosa, head coach of the men’s volleyball team, has a very structured program.

Starting in March, each player practices three times a week for an hour-and-a-half. This time is spent focusing on upper body and lower core exercises as well as endurance.

Porosa said 80 per cent of his team usually comes back in better shape than they were in last year.

“When they’re coming back they should jump higher like four or six inches and they should be faster and stronger,” said Porosa.

“They are charging batteries for the next season. Some of them go to school [in the summer] so they have a smaller load for the next school year.”

While coaches like Porosa have their players abide by a very structured training program, the same cannot be said about their eating habits as there is not a strict nutritional program for them to follow.

“They have basic information which they get during the season, which is based on some knowledge and common sense. But it’s hard to monitor their eating habits during the off-season because they are in a different environment,” said Porosa.

“They are going back home and working and doing what other people do at this young age.”

Jenny Young, a second-year defenseman and captain of the women’s hockey team, said although there has not been a set nutrition program, she has met with a nutritionist this year.

“We’ve had meetings with a nutritionist and she’s given us information based on what we weigh and how we should be eating well,” she said.

“I’m definitely going to try and eat well along with a solid weight routine.

Cosgrove is also looking forward to the summer months of hard training.

“We have our priorities set and we just want to work hard to become champions next year.”

Train like an athlete

Step 1: Get the right apparel

Before you can start training like an athlete you are going to need to dress like one. While you can’t wear the same blue Adidas apparel that our beloved Ryerson athletes work out in, there are plenty of other alternatives.

Proper footwear is essential. Any sweats will work, but I would recommend that you invest in Under Armour. While a bit more expensive than its competitors, Under Armour’s light and durable material is worth the extra few bucks.

Step 2: Cardio, Cardio, Cardio

While you may want to go straight to the weight room to work on your gun show, do yourself a favour and start with some cardio. You can pump all the iron in the world, but you won’t see any results unless you get your heart rate up. If your not a fan of the treadmill, stationary bike and/or elliptical machine, go to the gymnasiums and play a few pickup games of basketball, soccer or whatever sport the other gym rats are playing.

Step 3: Pre-game

Before you even think about lifting a weight, stretch. Not only does it lower the chances of you pulling a muscle and hurting yourself, but it will also serve as a quick break.

Step 4: Hit the weight room

Once you’ve broken a sweat and have your heart rate up, you can finally hit the weights. Before you start lifting, decide what part of your body you would like to work out. DO NOT sporadically change between your arms, legs, back and chest. The more detailed and specific your plan is, the more effective your workout will be. During your workout, remember to give yourself enough time to rest between sets and make sure to stay hydrated. A common myth about lifting is that you should lift as much weight as you can, but doing more repetitions with less weights is more effective.

Step 5: Cool Down

So you’re done your workout, you are all tired and sweaty and all you want to do is sit on your couch and chug a bottle of Gatorade. Well don’t. Resist the urge to stop and jog on the treadmill for a few more minutes. Follow that up with a few quick stretches and you can hit the showers knowing that you won’t feel nearly as sore as you would have otherwise.

Step 6: Drink chocolate milk

It rebuilds muscle and tastes great. ‘Nuff said

— Sean Tepper, sports editor

Photo by: Steve Goetz

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