Athletes use summer for more than a break

Deanna Stevens

Competitors train for upcoming seasons

The season may be over, but that doesn’t mean Kent State athletes aren’t still practicing. The off-season is the time when athletes train to improve, or at least maintain, the level they accomplished during the season.

Two athletes who are working hard to help their respective squads are Erin Christopher and Mike Inge.

These two Kent State athletes are preparing their minds and their bodies for the upcoming season.

Christopher pitches for the Kent State softball team. The senior exercise science major had one win, two saves and a .300 ERA last season. Her injury during her sophomore year limited her outings this past season, but she came back strong and was voted most improved by her team.

Along with working on her game, Christopher is taking two classes, waitressing and coaching two young girls on pitching.

“Erin has worked really hard to develop her pitching,” head coach Karen Linder said. “She didn’t have many appearances last year. But she has improved so much. We have been able to depend on her, and she has really come through for us.”

Working hard is something Christopher is used to. She has played summer softball since she was 11 years old, but is not participating this year.

Instead, she is focused on getting her body in shape to handle the upcoming fall season. Although Christopher is focused on recuperating, she is completing the team’s training packet as well. It includes running, weight lifting and agility drills.

Another athlete who is training this off-season is track and field runner Inge. A junior sports management major, Inge is focusing on preparing physically for the upcoming cross-country season. 

Inge will be trying to make the 12-person cross-county traveling squad next season, but he might be red-shirted for track. If he is red-shirted for track, he would have another year of eligibility. He is planning on running in some races to work on his personal record.

Before starting a cross-country season, Inge wants to recuperate from a long track season.

“Right now I’m just getting off of the season so I want to get healthy,” Inge said. “But soon I will start running for 30 minutes a day three times a week. Then by the end of summer, I should be running about 55 miles per week.”

If Inge is red-shirted, the track team will lose one of their best performers. During his sophomore season, some of his accomplishments included a second win at the Mid-American Conference championships for the 800 meter run, awarded the Most Outstanding Performer award at the 2004 MAC outdoor championships. He also participated at the United States Olympic team trails, finishing ninth, which was just short of making the finals.

Inge has made quite an impression on the team, as well as on the coach.

“He has progressed so much from high school to college,” former coach Wendel McRaven said. “Coach Chismar, at Elyria did a really good job preparing his team for college. Then, when he got here, he was so well prepared he was able to perform at an even higher level.”

Christopher is also preparing for fall mentally.

“For fall I want to be a spark and a role model,” Christopher said. “I want the girls to be able to look to me for support.”

She will begin to focus on pitching and strengthening her arm in late July. The team starts conditioning the first week of classes. Until then, conditioning is the responsibility of the individual players.

Next season Christopher is looking to build on the success of last season.

“I want to win the MAC tournament,” she said. “We’ve been there before, but we haven’t done well. So this time I want to make it worthwhile.”

Contact general assignment reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].