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North Marion's Jillian Daley checks in with the school's athletes during the offseason.

It's hard to tell it's the dead of summer because North Marion High School is teeming with life.

COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - North Marion soccer player Bethany Dunn runs the ball up the field during practice July 6.

Student athletes never stop. They fill the school in the afternoons and evenings, sweating through training and conditioning exercises in the weight room or running practice games in the gym or on the field.

June is when most sports are open to practice to encourage participation, and many students continue practicing throughout the summer. They do it because they care about their sport and they're committed to improving their game-time performance, whether it's volleyball, soccer, football or any of the many other sports at North Marion.

COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - From left, North Marion athletes Becca Rand, Shay Coello, Clara Miller take a water break during volleyball practice June 28.

Volleyball

Junior Becca Rand and seniors Clara Miller and Shay Coello, all varsity volleyball players, say they don't mind putting in the sweat equity in the summer before the fall season starts.

"At a young age, I grew a love for volleyball, so I want to keep improving and help other people improve," said Miller, who started arcing shots over the net in fourth grade.

Coello felt similarly, also willing to lend her team all the strength that she can muster.

"I'm trying to put the effort in to be a good player and a good teammate," Coello said.

Rand also exudes that love for the team, explaining that it's worth putting in the hours for her own happiness.

"Honestly, I feel like it's therapy," she said. "Always, I can have so much going on, but I come out to this court with this team, and it all goes away."

She added that volleyball coach Lindy Wing is "fun and hilarious."

For her part, Wing said she strives to make "an impact on each girl, whether it's in a game or in life."

COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - North Marion soccer players clad in practice jerseys build their skills on a cool summer evening.

Soccer

Many students said one of the most positive impacts of playing a sport is the joy of belonging.

Saylor Swanson, who plays left forward, said that soccer has improved her life because of that powerful feeling of community.

"Everyone comes from a different background, economically or ethically, and it's good to know different people, and when you're on the field, none of that matters," said Swanson, a North Marion senior.

For North Marion senior Ashley Delgado, being a part of a close-knit team gives her back more than the effort she puts in at summer practice.

"The memories that we make here make it worth it," said Delgado, who plays center back (defense). "The laughs and smiles make it all worth it."

Girls soccer coach Ben Bonser said that the offseason offers so much opportunity.

"Summer league serves two purposes: a chance to get better for girls who don't play for other teams during the summer, and a chance for the girls to play with their school teammates and friends," Bonser said. "Playing with classmates and friends is fun. And I'm always happy to help players who want to improve."

COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Seniors Josiah Texta, left, and Kamron Anderson build their strength for the football season on an unseasonably chilly afternoon June 28.

Football

In some ways, summer practice is as important for the coaches as it is for the athletes.

Football coach Michael Bicknell said that the summer is often when coaches are devoting the most effort to bringing a team together.

"You need a lot of time with team sports to get everything in sync; you need that continuity" throughout the year, he said.

Bicknell said that this time of year also affords him the time to spread the word and inspire more people to get involved in sports.

Why should people join a team? His players would recommend getting involved because, like the soccer and volleyball players, being on a team and working together inspires them.

"I love the sport of football," said senior Kamron Anderson, right outside linebacker. "It's a chance to make new friends, build a team, a family."

They're devoted to their team, but that's not the only thing that pushes them to strength train and run drills over the summer. They do it for themselves.

Senior Josiah Texta, quarterback on offense and safety on defense, said that the team didn't perform as well as he would have liked last year.

"That sparked something in me," he said. "It's my last year. I can't go out like this."

If student players want to improve, Anderson and Texta agreed that it is essential for them to condition and practice during the summer.

"It all starts in the off season: You don't put in the work, you can't be this good," Anderson said.

Texta agreed, "It all starts in the summer."

That message is clear from the buzz of activity on campus as athletes in their respective sports put in their all to be ready for the fall season.

Learn more about North Marion Athletics on the Huskies' website: https://northmarionhuskies.bigteams.com.

To share stories on the North Marion School District, email communications specialist Jillian Daley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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