Just like the mailman delivers come rain, hail, sleet or snow, the Mexico High School boy's soccer program isn't backing down from a challenge by Mother Nature.
Instead the Bulldogs are embracing the heat this week with a camp at the middle school Mon.-Fri from 5:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
"We've been working on everything. Dribbling, passing, shooting. We're trying to get back to the fundamentals because we have some athletes who haven't touched a ball all summer and others who've been training every day," said Mexico varsity boy's soccer coach Chris Hawkins. "We want to be sure we get some touches on the ball before the season starts."
Even though the weather has presented its share of challenges at this event, Hawkins believes if this team can survive under these conditions they have the potential to thrive once the season starts. Add to that the fact next week is the second high school dead period of this month and that strategy appears set to pay dividends sooner rather than later.
"Right now we're using the heat to our advantage. It's going to be hot when we start the season. We might as well get used to it now," Hawkins said. "I'm looking at our first two-weeks of games and it's going to be hot. We haven't been doing a whole lot of conditioning. That's something the guys have been doing on their own. Right now, seeing them in action, I think most of them have been training. They're definitely keeping up with their conditioning, but we're still not where we need to be."
Working in the Bulldogs favor at this event has been participation numbers. One reason for that is this camp features both the varsity and the JV, and because Hawkins is handling both squads on his own he relies on his upperclassmen to direct the less experienced athletes to where they're supposed to be and why.
"The older guys have definitely been helping the younger guys. We've definitely been blessed to have enough talent that's played the game before," said. Hawkins. "We don't have that many new players, but once the season starts there will be people coming out of the woodwork who've never played soccer."
For Hawkins this is actually his second-straight week of coaching after hosting a youth soccer camp July 10-14 at the same time and location. The difference is last week he also helped girls varsity assistant soccer coach Haley Schafer run a high school clinic from 7:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. because the Lady Bulldogs do not currently have a head coach.
"This group loves this game. We just need to make sure we're all on the same page because their is a certain way we need to defend and certain way we all need to shoot," Hawkins said. "Trying to make plays doesn't always work out as well for some as it does for others, so we need to instill the right instincts."
One issue that's a little different at this event is that Hawkins manages such a large group without a wealth of assistance. As for why this approach works for him, it's at least in part because he leads by example and exhibits authority without raising his voice.
"I love it. It's always such a good time coming to practice. It's something I get to do, not have to," said Hawkins. "I love the game. I love to coach. Now I have to make sure we all get along and still do our work."