Name your boys and girls of whatever sport and whatever season, but the odds are good that the seeds of their success are sown in the summer months.
Sherman Independent School District is in the midst of its busiest vacation athletics program ever. More than half of Sherman High’s enrollment participates in at least one of the 10 boys’ and 10 girls’ sports that the school offers. More than 950 SHS students participate in all, with more at the elementary, intermediate and middle school levels.
It’s all about the school’s slogan of “Building Bearcats.”
The biggest action happens every morning with the Performance Course, which spans more than just football.
Sherman ISD has joined a number of select North Texas schools in hosting the Performance Course, which is a six-week summer program that combines strength and conditioning principles with the latest methodologies to improve athletic performance and build strength of character in individuals and teams.
“It’s a six-week course that conditions your body and gets it ready,” athletic director J.D. Martinez said. “They cover a lot of the drills I like to cover, but it’s not just working out. They give lessons on nutrition and have a different key word every week. Last week the key word was ‘attitude,’ and this week the key word is ‘belief.’ They hit on a lot of the things we talk about. It’s a different way for the kids to hear the message. The more you can hear it, the better it is.”
The Performance Course (PC) consists of three groups who gather four times a week, Mondays through Thursdays, at the SHS indoor practice facility. The High Intensity course is for boys entering grades 9-12 who start at 7 a.m., followed by a course for girls entering grades 6-12 at 9 a.m. and then a Developmental course for boys entering grades 6-8 which starts at 10:45.
The kids, and coaches too, get a three-day weekend break so that, as Martinez said, “They can still have a summer.”
Martinez is very familiar with PC and its founder, Geno Pierce, from Martinez’s former school, Flower Mound Marcus.
“When I first got (to Marcus), I thought we didn’t need the Performance Course, that we could do it ourselves,” Martinez said. “But they came in and I saw what they did. What they’ll do is train your kids and bring a staff in. They do a good job of working with kids. What they do is allow us coaches to work on other things like X’s and O’s and paperwork.”
A total of 45 schools in Texas and Oklahoma employ PC, including highly-successful Aledo, Allen, Austin Westlake, Highland Park and Southlake Carroll. The Bearcats are the only members of District 5-5A who are using the course this summer.
“When I took this job, I reached out to Geno to see if we could get it here for our kids,” Martinez said. “I’m very excited to be able to have them with us here. There are a lot of good schools that we’re associating with.”
Athletics is enjoying an uptick in success at SHS after several down years. In the 2016-17 school year, Sherman had five teams qualify for postseason competition, with 27 students qualifying for regional competition. Two students, Sebastian Pineres in boys’ golf and Sadi Giles in girls’ track, qualified for state.
The surge is translating into a high rate of participation in the Performance Course. Martinez said there are 65 girls participating, as well as 45 high school boys in the High Intensity course and about 40 boys in the Developmental group.
“The kids have got to buy in,” Martinez said. “You can’t do it if they don’t buy in. And they have. I’m very happy and impressed to have as many girls as we do. To have that many girls looks pretty good.”
Coach Lincoln Hanke is the site instructor for PC at Sherman. Hanke has been an instructor with PC since 2013.
Former Bearcat quarterback Dru Smith, who helped with Sherman’s 7-on-7 football and spring practices, has also helped with workouts, and incoming assistant coach Chance Hawkins works in the summer for PC. Other coaches on the Bearcats’ staff also participate in the training at SHS.
Even though this week was quiet because of the Independence Day holiday, activity will resume next week with sessions Mondays through Thursdays until the course wraps up July 27.
Football naturally steals the attention in North Texas, but the summer activity has spread across virtually every sport that Sherman sponsors.
At no cost to students and their families from grades 2-6 — a point that Martinez emphasizes in the wake of news that some North Texas districts are implementing pay-to-play — the Bearcats have been conducting summer camps in every sport they offer that’s sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League.
Elementary camps in volleyball, baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, tennis and golf were going right alongside football.
“You name it, we had it,” Martinez said.
Some of the camps have come and gone already. For instance, the Bearcats held junior high volleyball and girls’ and boys’ basketball camps in May and June. The school charged a nominal fee of $25 for those camps just to help the coaches and for T-shirts, but Martinez said they never turned a kid down if he or she or their parents didn’t have the money.
But along with the Performance Course, other sports are offering activities that are ongoing through the summer.
Cross country coach Anthony Shearer is opening up the back fields at the high school for anyone in grades 7-12 to come in and run either in the morning or evening on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Also, tennis coach Rodney Pilcher is opening up the tennis courts at Piner Middle School in the evening on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Upcoming camps include an All-American volleyball camp July 24-26; an evening camp for softball for incoming grades 7-9 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 7-10; and a football camp for incoming grades 7-9 Aug. 7-10.
Additionally, former Austin College men’s soccer coach Paul Burns will conduct the Texoma Elite Soccer Camp at the high school practice fields July 17-20 from 9 a.m. to noon.