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QV, Sewickley Academy coaches value preseason practice for winter sports

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Yoga is part of one team's workouts as squads at Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy prepare for winter sports seasons that will begin over the next couple weeks.

Members of the cooperative swim team formed with boys and girls from the two schools will participate in exercises designed to promote control of the mind and body. In yoga, breath control, meditation and bodily postures are practiced for better health and relaxation.

“It's good for the mind and increases flexibility, which is good for swimmers,” coach Sue Morgan said. “We will include it as part of dry-land exercises.”

Nothing as exotic is planned in other sports, including boys and girls basketball, where fundamentals are stressed.

“We will be working on offense and skill development, with an even greater attention to defense,” Quaker Valley girls coach Jim Dudas said.

Sewickley Academy boys coach Win Palmer has taken a similar approach to his team's workouts.

“Preseason practices (are) when we put in our defensive system,” he said. “About 70 percent of our practice time will be focused on the fundamentals of individual and team defense.”

Quaker Valley boys coach Mike Mastroianni considers preseason practices the most important of all.

“Your foundation of your team is developed and the expectations of your program are established,” he said. “We have a lot of work in front of us.”

Since the beginning of the school year, Sewickley Academy girls coach Allen Vaccarelli has kept the gym open for players interested in sharpening their skills. But there have been few participants because many girls play fall sports.

“We have been doing offseason open gym sessions twice a week,” Vaccarelli said. “This allows a small number of girls the opportunity to get extra work and attention on their skills.”

The Sewickley Academy hockey team is awaiting the arrival of four players from the boys soccer team, which has been participating in the PIAA playoffs.

“Things are going well considering we don't have all our kids,” coach Ryan Patrick said.

Before beginning its season in October, the Quaker Valley hockey team had camp and preseason practices in August.

“Preseason is very important,” coach Kevin Quinn said. “We played in (a) tournament and (scheduled) scrimmages to see where we are and what we need to improve.”

Senior Clayton Bouchard said preseason workouts have made him better.

“It's a good way to get the intensity back and work on your stickhandling,” said Bouchard, 18. “You become rusty.”

The Quaker Valley bowling club will have a handful of practices before beginning its season this month.

“People don't think of bowlers practicing, but they do,” coach Greg Vecchi said. “Practice prepares you for the speed of the game.

“There are 10 bowlers on two lanes. Kids have to get used to that.”

Junior Michelle Starke enjoys practices.

“We encourage and help each other,” she said. “We'll give advice to go on this side, or go left or right.

“We have a really good time. We become friends.”

Senior Troy Gleason said he and some teammates also practice as members of junior leagues.

“Some of the bowlers we bowl against belong to (junior leagues), too,” said Gleason, 17. “It gives us chances to scope out the opposition.”

Sewickley Academy bowling coach Antonio Palangio agreed that practice is as important to bowlers as it is to athletes in other sports.

“If you miss a spare, you know that's something you have to work on,” he said. “It's like when you miss free throws in a basketball game--you keep practicing until you get it right.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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