Team building, the Raider way

Luke Lange

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Team unity will be a key ingredient for winning games in the fall, but it’s something that starts getting cultivated in the summer. The summer workouts serve a couple of purposes, such as getting athletes used to physical training and allowing new players to get ingrained into their team’s program. The activities can be challenging, but those same challenges have a way of connecting dozens of individuals as they get ready for their season.

“We think it’s a huge part of it,” said Southridge football coach Scott Buening. “The things we do in the summer are very intentional. We think it’s important to have everyone training, sweating (and) getting uncomfortable together. It provides opportunities for guys to develop as leaders.”

One important point that comes from summer workouts is witnessing the players act on their commitment to the team. The workouts start at 6:00 a.m., which means the players are up much earlier to get ready and make it to school. It’s challenging for some to get up so early during the summer, but the players that do signal to the others what they’re willing to give for the good of the team, and that shared sacrifice endears teammates to one another.

“If you’re going to get up and come in at five in the morning to get here and be ready to go, we’re confident that this is important and means something to you. We value that tremendously. They build a bond and trust between each other by doing that.”

Teaching new and younger players the importance of physical training is also fundamental to the workouts. Senior offensive guard/linebacker Luke Lange remembers coming into the weight room as a freshman and trying to find his way around the iron with the older players. But the importance of the physical training quickly became clear, and Lange and his friends decided they would commit themselves to mastering the metal so they could perform at their best during the season.

“Freshman year, you come in there and you’re pretty intimidated by the big seniors,” he said. “You aren’t sure what to do, but by the time you start getting older, you start to mature and work hard because you understand the importance of it.”

Now as a senior, Lange does what he can to share what he’s learned with the players behind him and wants everyone to get the most they can from the weight room. He also feels a responsibility to set the standard for other players when it comes to the Raider program’s expectation of hard work.

“Sometimes we got to be hard on them,” he said. “There have been times where teammates and I got on the little guys. You let them know how Raiders work, and by the end everyone is working pretty hard.”

Buening and the coaching staff also take notice of which players step up and exercise their leadership skills during the summer. Some are more vocal, while some won’t say much and lead by example. But fostering and developing those leaders during the summer is a critical part of positive team chemistry and success during the season.

“It’s something that’s got to be organic,” said Buening. “We all have different personalities and ways of operating. The common thread is sincere and earnest care. (With) our kids, we try to value that they be true to themselves (and) their teammates. If you’re true to yourself, your personality and sincerely care about the success of your teammates, then you are a leader.”




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