Training has been hard, intense and at times disappointing, but still rewarding for the Ice Girls U16 rep team.
Marlise Fox, 13, said the coaching of Jeff Korven has been intense compared to what she has experienced with house teams.
“In house you would do just fielding drills. We never really did a lot with weights. This is a lot different for me,” said Fox.
Before hitting the field at Lions Park, the group of 12 (made up of Penticton and Summerland players) head to the Penticton Racquet and Fitness Club for workouts, which includes cardio.
One of the workouts they do is wrist curls with a weight at the bottom.
“Everybody hates them. You have to curl them up. Your wrists are dead by the end of it,” said Cayly Martin, who played in Summerland last season. “It really helps with throwing.”
The challenge for Fox has been getting through the bad days she experiences from being exhausted to being in cold weather.
“It’s completely different physically working with him,” said Fox, a shortstop, who has improved her speed and overhand throws which now top 50 miles per hour.
Martin said they work out a lot and have learned about different exercises through a trainer. She has become a better player since it all started in Sept. 10.
“I have only played one season, and I’m already playing rep and that’s all thanks to Jeff,” said Martin. “I was decent. My house coaches taught me the basics. Jeff taught me things I didn’t know were even part of softball.”
Martin, a centre fielder, said she has become better at throwing, but so has the majority of the group. Korven said their overall improvement is “phenomenal.”
JADEN ALLEN positions herself to grab this grounder during a training session for the Ice Girls U16B rep team. Allen is among 12 players from Penticton and Summerland who have been training since early September to be ready for a spring season of fastball.
“The girls have improved so much. When they started, we had six or seven of the 12 that had elbow problems, shoulder problems, when they are throwing because they were throwing the ball incorrectly,” he said. “We’ve been lucky enough to fix 90 per cent of that. It’s all having good solid mechanics.”
Since the start Korven has focused on pitching and defence, since as Korven said, that’s what wins games. The final two sessions held this week were on hitting.
The group will continue to train through the fall and winter indoors with co-coach Mark Verhaeghe, whose responsibility is to keep the girls in shape. Martin said it’s important to continue working during the off-season instead of taking a break.
“My mom has been pushing me about that,” said Martin.
Her goal is to earn a U.S. college scholarship and to do that Martin knows she must push herself.
Korven said that he’s excited about the possibilities with this team.
“I’m pretty stoked,” said Korven, who is motivated to get them to the next level. “When we’re throwing the ball around the horn … that ball is just snapping into the gloves. Everybody is doing their job properly.”
Korven also praised the commitment shown by the players and their parents.
“We have got a phenomenal group of parents,” said Korven, who has also been impressed by the players loyalty. “They are doing what they can to make this team succeed. You don’t have the parents, you don’t have the players.”
The players from Penticton are: Sydney Clark, Emily Phillips, Fox, Danika Bergen, Brooke Hall and Jordyn Hamilton. From Summerland: Xsara Jamieson-Harvey, Dakota Soutar Romo, Emilia Chick, Ryan Taylor and Calista Stafford. Minus Taylor and Chick, Summerland U16C earned silver at provincials.