This summer has been a little bit different for El Campo Ricebird athletics. With a few new rule changes, schools are now allowed to teach sport specific drills for a few hours a week and El Campo has chosen to focus on football.
Last year, the Ricebirds spent the summer working on conditioning and strength training in the offseason. This year, when the Ricebirds have their sport specific training, most of the time is taken up with drills. However, linemen still spend time in the weight room.
“(We) used to have a six-week window,” Athletic Director Wayne Condra said. “Basically in those six-weeks, you had four days (a week) to be able to work. When you did work with them, it was just lifting weights and agility drills. Now there is no limit, you don’t have it for just six weeks. You can do it all summer if you want too.”
Returning senior linemen Cole Riha who took part in last year’s summer workouts sees this new way as a chance for the football team to come together.
“We’re trying to work together more as a team, rather than individual work,” Riha said. “We’re getting better as a team instead of getting one person better than the other.”
In the heat this past Monday and Thursday, the football team went through some light stretching to start the workouts and then broke into drills. Thursday’s drills including receivers working on routes and linemen working on different protection drills.
For the linemen, the summer workouts now give them something they haven’t had in years; time to improve in the offseason.
“The linemen, offensively and defensively, are able to get out there and work on fundamentals, work on assignments, work on technique and that’s a big plus,” Condra said.
Skill positions have seven-on-seven to use to work on getting better during the summer, but for the past couple of years, the El Campo linemen haven’t had anything for them during the offseason except lifting weights and whatever they chose to do by themselves. Now, the linemen have been working on drills with the hope they’ll be better when the season finally rolls around.
“When school starts we can work on hitting and being more aggressive with the football instead of having to go through the basics and working on the little things,” Rhia said. “Now we’re working on the little things and getting that out of the way. When school starts we can go full (speed) with the football and pads.”
While the football team still doesn’t have pads on, the work they are getting done at Ricebird Stadium on the hot turf will put them in better shape when practices officially kickoff in August.
“It’s going to really pay dividends at the beginning because a lot of the stuff we are doing now is stuff we are trying to do the first few days when we start practice,” Condra said. “We’re going to be beyond that and hopefully we’ll be able to be able to advance further into things when we start.”