By Gene Graham
YORK Members of the York Comprehensive High School girls basketball team are taking on offseason training in hopes of establishing a more physical presence next season.
Head coach Paula Blackwell said the players took a week off after the season ended in February, then began two-day a week weight room workouts or played a spring sport.
She said the team’s motto is “the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”
Blackwell maintains that the weight room is where players find themselves and gain not only strength but confidence and learn never to quit when the going gets tough.
“Our girls have been so dedicated to step into a male-dominated weight room two days a week,” she said. “It’s great for the team because sometimes the spotter is the one who can talk her teammate through a tough set.”
Blackwell said weight room participants are doing ladders , dots, jump rope for footwork and lower body explosion-type exercises using boxes, gluten ham machine, lunges, squats and leg presses.
“They also bench, power clean and target the core,” she said.
Team members Carrie Lee Lancaster, Taylr Sharp, Aubrey Wood, Halle West, Hannah Cassell and eighth-grader Keshia McClure have missed few days from the start, said Blackwell.
“Other girls joined us who were encouraged by our mainstays or found the weight room once their spring sports season ended,” she said. “We have six to seven athletes from York Middle School, which is exciting for our future.”
Blackwell encourages basketball team members to do at-home workouts that do not require weights and to run and play basketball on non-workout days.
“The offseason is filled with other activities for coaches but Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for the girls to get stronger, faster and quicker,” she said.
Hannah Cassell, a rising senior who brings experience to the backcourt as a playmaking guard, believes the offseason weight room workouts will benefit the players.
“It’s good for the team,” she said. “Getting stronger is helping me. It is also helping seventh and eighth-graders who are participating in the workouts.”
Carrie Lee Lancaster, an all-region performer as a sophomore this season, is also sold on the weight room program. “We need more female athletes involved in the weight room. Building strength is helping the players. I can tell the difference.”
Added the 6-foot-1 pivot player, “Sharing the weight room is an opportunity for team bonding, including the seventh and eighth-graders.”
Blackwell has been pleased to see a number of York Middle School players in the weight room.
Makala Love, a rising ninth-grader, said the workouts have been good for the younger players. “The workouts are fun and it’s helping us,” she said. “It’s already made a difference for me.”
Natalee Graham and Sara Morris are rising eighth-graders readying themselves for middle school participation. “I like working out with all of the players,” said Graham. “The varsity players tell me things that help. I am getting stronger, which will help me shoot from farther out.”
Morris, who will be counted on in the post next season, said the strength program is making a difference. “It’s making me stronger,” she said. “Building strength will allow me to make better passes next season.”
Citing the advantages of weight room participation, Blackwell said the game of basketball has changed.
“Players have to be in tip-top condition and strong enough to handle the extra body contact that the game entails,” she noted.
The Lady Cougar coach encourages players in grades nine through 12 to take weight training in the fall semester. Rising eighth-graders have a class at York Middle School in the fall.
“Female athletes are seeing how vital the weight room is to succeed in any sport,” said Blackwell. “I enjoy working with them. It really helps curb injuries as well.”