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Column

Athletes, make it count

“The kids are buying into ….”

Coaches say this about athletes on their teams all the time. Well, athletes, have you bought into what the coaches are teaching you and want from you as an individual and as a team? Are you invested fully with your role on the team and helping the team to be successful — win or lose?

Participating in high school athletics and activities is priceless. Sports and other extra-curricular activities teach life lessons and build life skills. For me, it was all about building lifelong friendships and relationships with people — teammates and coaches/sponsors.

Make it count. Make you count as you make it count.

Fall sports practices began Monday but most teams had summer conditioning and lifting along with a team camp.

Invest in yourself by going to practice prepared to be better than the previous practice. Athletes who excel aren’t just talented. They work hard to be the best they can be, which usually translates into excelling in competition.

Everyone who reads this column knows I love football, that I’m a big Kansas City Chiefs fan and there’s nothing close to — for me — watching my Kansas State Wildcats on the gridiron. I could use the example of the Chiefs’ starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP. Mahomes works hard in the off-season honing his skills to be better.

But another fact about me is I’m old school. Although he never played on my favorite NFL team, I always loved watching Jerry Rice play. The Hall of Fame wide receiver is known for his accomplishments on the football field in his 20-year professional career. But his off-the-field workouts also became legendary.

Serena Williams is not considered the one of best tennis players simply because of her wins. She works hard to stay in shape so she can be successful on the court.

Just last weekend in Kansas City, Mo., we witnessed another prime example — Simone Biles won her sixth U.S. women’s gymnastics championship. Biles made history with a never-before-landed dismount from the balance beam event competition and throwing a triple-double move successfully on the floor exercise in the all-around competition.

Working hard to hone talent and skills is what it takes in every walk of life. It’s not just for athletics. It’s what helps students excel in the classroom. And sports writers and photographers excel at their profession.

My focus this week is with coaches from Newton High and Lynnville-Sully High for preseason preview information. The coaches are providing information on their teams after just a few days of practice because the Newton Daily News’ 2019 Fall Sports Preview is slated to hit the newsstands late next week.

Newton football has 65 players out and Cardinal head coach Ed Ergenbright is optimistic with the depth his team has at all positions, especially the skill position on offense. The Cardinals open up the 2019 season with two road games.

They will take on the Class 2A defending champions — the PCM Mustangs — in the season opener Aug. 30 with PCM hosting the game at Central College in Pella. PCM’s new turf football field is not going to be ready until maybe the middle of the season.

Newton volleyball is under the direction of Kim Florke, who is in her second stint as Cardinal head coach. She retired after 15 years at the helm in 2013 but continued teaching at NHS and now has stepped back into coaching. Florke has worked with the Cardinal players in a strong summer open-gym and camp season.

The Cardinals host a scrimmage Friday morning with the PCM Mustangs. The Mustangs return to Newton for the season-opening NHS Cardinal Early Bird Varsity Invitational on Aug. 27.

NCMP Aquagirls are ready to dive into the 2019 season under veteran head coach Sarah Patterson. NCMP’s roster has returning state qualifiers, a strong senior class of leaders and a lot of talent up and down the ranks. The Aquagirls host Linn-Mar on Aug. 27 to open the season.

Newton’s cross country teams will be led by youth again in 2019 with head coaches Rachelle Tipton and Steve Weeks. Some of the top runners from the 2018 season for the Cardinal girls and boys were underclassmen. Newton’s first meet is Aug. 29 in the Gilbert Invitational.

Make it count, athletes.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
jsheets@newtondailynews.com

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