On Monday both of the Montgomery County Varsity Basketball programs hosted teams traveling from abroad that are part of a Belgium Youth Program and, from the looks of things, things couldn't have gone much better for the boys or the girls.
While Darren Pappas and the Mexico Varsity Boys Basketball Team had a similar experience last summer playing against a squad from Spain thanks to an old college friend of Lady Bulldogs Varsity Girls Basketball Coach Ed Costley, that's not the only thing happening for the Wildcats athletic department this offseason. Activities Director Adam Falloon is well aware that while that roundball scrimmage may be the highlight of this current time period, all of his programs are hard at work.
This includes the Montgomery County Varsity Football Team because to say Head Coach John Klekamp believes in the virtues of hard work is an understatement. In Klekamp's mind there's no such thing as too much hard work and it's when he finds an athlete with a similar mindset to his own is when he knows he's got a truly special player that he'll be able to count on for an extended period of time.
"I encourage all our football athletes to participate in other MOCO sports. We currently have at least 75 percent of our football team playing an additional sport and at least 35-40 percent of them playing three sports," said Klekamp. "Our biggest three sport athletes are seniors Carson Parker and Ben Miller and junior Jackson Brower and several underclassmen that will play three sports. The majority of our two sport athletes were big parts of our final four baseball team and a boy's track team that's on the rise."
Sharing athletes at Montgomery County may be encouraged, but sharing coaches has turned out to be a better theory than it has a reality. That's because in order to run their offseason conditioning programs coaches are having a hard time find the hours to also serve as an assistant coach for other head coaches.
"As of last season I was no longer the assistant boy's basketball coach. After losing a coach two years ago, I was again needed in the weight room during the off-season," Klekamp said. "With the size of our staff, five to six coaches, we are constantly coaching both groups (offense and defense) at the same time. Our staff is still fairly young with only one assistant having more than three years experience, so keeping us together and the players together helps with the consistency in what we are teaching."
Even though Klekamp's staff is trending towards the younger side, so are his players. Because he's not the type to allow things to get to loose in regards to discipline this should allow for him to keep on top of the situation. But, being in charge and being the best are two different things. Whether or not this ability to control his troops translates into a successful season still remains to be scene.
"We are encouraged by the numbers of players that we will be looking at in the freshmen and sophomore groups. We should be around 23-25 athletes between the two classes," Klekamp said."Our sophomores had a very successful JV season last year and will look to build on that and their work in the weight room. They had a good summer camp and competed very well at the ECC Camp in Hermann, as well as a 7-on-7 event in Winfield."
Another group Klekamp liked the looks of at both the Hermann Camp and the Winfield 7-on-7 was the MOCO varsity. Even though those individuals will only number between 20 to 21 individuals this season, Klekamp believes the key to dealing with that fact is supplementing his lack of seniors with the most capable sophomores he has.
"Although last season's record ended up 5-5, we feel like there were several games that were capable of winning. The team that worked through the rough start to go 5-1 in their last six weeks is a team that's ready to make tremendous strides this season," said Klekamp. "We can't afford to have another slow start. We've went a combined 1-7 the past two seasons in our first four weeks. Our players and coaches have discussed how important the start is to this season; now we must make those thoughts a reality."