Summer break -- what break?

High school athletes' summers can be more packed than the school year


The sun was just creeping over the hills of Western Knolls when Korey Kostur started his day Friday. Lifting weights and a wrestling session with his brother in the family weight/wrestling room typically would come before breakfast, but not today. The junior-to-be at Moffat County High School had his bags ready for an 8 a.m. departure to a five-day wrestling camp.

In Craig, juniors-to-be Derek Duran and Kevin Loughran were able to sleep in compared to their typical 6 a.m. wake up to lift. They had to be ready for a basketball game at 9 a.m.

Ninety miles west, in Rangely, senior-to-be Brandie Telfer and junior-to-be Mari Katherine Raftopoulos received their wakeup call to get ready for a weekend basketball tournament.

The five multi-sport Bulldogs are a sample of how busy high school athletes are during the summer.

Loughran a football/basketball/track athlete will be away from home for nearly a month at four camps and numerous weekend tournaments.

On his busiest days, Duran lifts at 6 a.m., has basketball practice from 7-8:30, reports to work soon after and then goes through another workout on the track in the evening.

Telfer (volleyball/basketball) and Raftopoulos (volleyball/basketball/track) have lifting, basketball and volleyball practices that take up the morning.

Kostur a football/wrestling/baseball athlete may have the busiest June of all. He lifts and wrestles at home in the mornings then he has a baseball game or practice in the afternoon. Some days, he'll throw in a run, as well This week, he'll be at wrestling camp until Tuesday, return home for a night and then hop on a bus the next morning for football camp.

So much for a summer vacation.

Yet they wouldn't have it any other way.

"You have to be working on your game in the summer because everyone else is," Loughran said. "I don't know what I would do with myself if I had a lot of free time."

In June nearly every sport provides an opportunity for athletes. Swimmers have the Sea Shark Swim Club, golfers have the junior clinic, the baseball program has three teams with more than 40 games scheduled. Don't forget about soccer camps. The list could go on.

It isn't uncommon for multi-sport athletes to have more than one practice a day. Coaches are aware they are sharing athletes and try to work with their co-workers to avoid scheduling conflicts.

"One of the first meetings I had with (girls basketball coach Craig Mortensen) he let me know when he had the girls in the summer," volleyball coach Becky Howlett said. "It's important not to overbook them."

As long as the schedules don't overlap, Howlett thinks it is advantageous for athletes to have other opportunities.

"It's good to see them active because each sport works different parts of the body," she said. "It wears on them but they are pretty willing."

Each of the aforementioned athletes stated why they were willing to have a swamped summer.

Kostur went into the state wrestling tournament ranked third in his weight class and finished fifth. Telfer will be one of the top-returning scorers in the state in basketball and hopes to improve on her two Western Slope All-Conference team honors. Raftopoulos wants to be all conference, at least in basketball. Loughran wants to get stronger to be able to bang with the big boys in football and basketball.

Duran wants to take charge.

"I sat back and watched the upperclassmen the last two years," he said. "It's time to be a leader, and I need to put in the work to get that done."

Wrestling coach Roman Gutierrez said he wasn't worried about his athletes such as Kostur who are motivated and active in other sports.

"I know Korey is going to work because his brothers will make him," he said. "It's the kids who think they can just work a couple of weeks before the season who hurt us."

Each of this five felt a necessity to work hard in the off-season.

"We get better every time we play," Telfer said. "So it is important to be out on the court."

Both girls agreed they would rather be on the road to a tournament than working full time somewhere.

Boys basketball coach Mike LeWarne, a 1992 graduate of Moffat County, said athletes spend more time on their sports in the summer than when he was in school.

"Lifting weights is a lot more important now, so that just adds one more thing to take up time," he said. "What I couldn't have done was afford all of the camps without being able to have a job."

A job wasn't the top priority for the athletes. Duran and Loughran work flexible hours for their dads, Kostur wasn't going to work until July, and Raftopoulos said she didn't think it was possible with her schedule. Telfer had similar thoughts.

"I just volunteer at places because it is the only way I can work around my schedule," she said.

Howlett almost felt bad for her busy athletes.

"Where's their vacation?" she said. "Basketball has them in June, and I have them in July and some in August. They almost lose some of their youthfulness by doing all of these sports."

Duran equated his youth with sports.

"There wouldn't be anything else to do in the summer," he said. "Sometimes you might want to sleep in, but once you get going, you feel good that you're putting in the work."

For most of them, their summer days start earlier than school days.

"About an hour earlier," Loughran said.

Kostur said he remembered his summer days of relaxation when he was younger.

"I'm a lot more busy now," he said as he shivered from the chill of an early spring morning.

Then he set off to make sure he had everything for two camps.

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