From Radford to Rio

Radford's summer athletes are training like they're already Olympians.

Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock this summer, you have probably been following the 2016 Olympics in Rio; the brilliant Katie Ledecky dominating the women’s pool, Ashton Eaton proving to all of us he’s actually superhuman in the decathlon, Simone Biles soaring higher than any gymnast before her, etc. Although they aren’t Olympians yet, the sports teams at Radford High School are already training like they’re competing for a spot on the podium.   

Kerri Walsh Jennings would be proud of the hours the 2015 State Championship Volleyball team has spent on the court this summer. Their eyes are already set on ensuring they’ll be in Richmond this November, so the team woke up to practice for four hours a day the first two weeks in August, before school had even started. Coming into the season with targets on their back, the team is most worried about the expectations following their big win last year. “This year, we’re the team to beat, considering we came away last season with eleven state championship rings,” Susanna Marshall, senior and state champion, says. In addition to all the teams  vetting to beat the Lady Bobcats, the team also inherited a new coach, Jess Mitchell. Mitchell came from Auburn, the team the Bobcats beat last year, after losing to them four times in a row. Of course, this was the win that mattered. The team has adjusted to these roadblocks, and now the path is clear, prepared for their Olympic, I mean state, gold.

There isn’t an Olympic competition for Marching Band, but the Radford High School Marching Band, also known as “The Best Band in the Land”, will win enough awards this competitive season to make up for the lack of Olympic representation. The band kids have been marching, twirling, and tanning since July, learning their complicated routine for hours at a time. The band practiced under the scorching heat with little room for breaks between their rigorous training. Not only does every single member of the band play their instrument masterfully, they can also do some mean arm circles. Chanting “I love arm circles!” is just a part of their daily routine. I tried them. Anyone who can do them for more than a minute deserves AT LEAST a gold medal. Nathan Tallant, returning drum major, this time for his third and final year is more excited for this show than he’s ever been before. “Bill Bondurant wrote all the music specifically for our school and our band, so it’s going to be so worth all the time we’ve put in,” he says. Tallant also added how hard the band has worked this summer: “Everyone in band has managed to sacrifice their summer vacations to come and rehearse. The dedication is overwhelming.” Whether you come for the football, the concessions, or the musical entertainment, be sure to attend those friday night lights to watch these super athlete musicians.

Radford’s cross country team might as well call themselves Olympians since they start their training the day after school lets out for summer vacation. Through pouring rain, through early mornings, through three mile tempo runs on the track, Coach Carrow and his squad of middle schoolers and high schoolers were running whenever they could. This year the team has a new training regime that includes much more rigorous workouts. “We’re just trying to get all the miles in we can,” he says. The girls team is especially looking forward to the competitive season. As one of the three returning seniors to have been on the 2013, 2014, and 2015 state championship teams, there would be nothing sweeter than ending my career with a “4peat.” With Mary Elliott and Carly Porter by my side, there is no team within our reach. The team also consists of five incredibly hard working freshmen who are working towards earning their first state ring. Sophomore Meigs Helms and Junior Miranda McGrady have put in more hours than anyone thought possible this summer; a gold trophy and a couple state rings, not to mention a spot on the podium, seem very likely in this team’s future.

Although football is not an international sport, the black and gold Bobcats seem to inspire feelings that can be described as wordly. Training as hard as ever, the “Boys of Fall” have been working towards the competition season. They suffered a significant loss over Blacksburg on the first Friday back from school, but refuse to be discouraged. In fact, if anything, they are just more motivated to prove their dominance in battle. The more fans that are in the student section, the better. “Rowdy Raddies”might as well be competing for best student section in the Olympics as well. I’m looking forward to seeing all the gold medal/state trophies “Title Town” will bring in this year.

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