For the fourth straight summer, The Suburbanite will feature local high school athletes preparing for the senior season of their respective fall sports as part of its Summer Athletes Series.
The focus of the series is how the athletes prepare and train for the final high school season of their fall sport, including balancing training with other commitments such as summer jobs, vacations, volunteer work and other obligations.
Past SAS participants have included current Division I football, volleyball, soccer and cross country athletes and this year’s group includes athletes who figure to play prominent roles in the success of their respective teams this fall.
Once a month, The Suburbanite will check in with each of them to profile a different aspect of their training and give readers a chance to see what life is like for a senior-to-be who’s doing their best to make sure that the last season of high school sports they play is a successful one.
This year’s Summer Athletes Series participants are:
Austin Lazoran - Coventry boys soccer
Lazoran is a three-year starter for the Comets, playing center midfielder on a team that has been among the winningest programs at Coventry in recent years.
Having been on the varsity his entire high school career, Lazoran is expected to play a large role in the attack for head coach Aaron Rose this fall. He’s singled out one particular area of his game to work on this offseason with the aim of both helping his team having a winning year and giving himself the best chance to play at the next level.
"What I’ll be working on most is trying to get bigger and putting on more muscle," Lazoran said.
Among the entries on his schedule for the weeks ahead are multiple college camps, which should be good places to find an opportunity to raise his profile for college coaches. Along with his workouts and camp trips, Lazoran is also looking to find a welding job and should that happen, he’ll have an even busier summer ahead.
Paige Rossiter - Green volleyball
Roster, a three-year varsity starter, is eager to get going on an offseason that she hopes will lead to a rise in the standings for she and her Green teammates. The Federal League has long been dominated by a Jackson team that has made multiple trips to the state tournament in recent seasons, so gaining ground on the Polar Bears is the mission for the rest of the league.
As a left hitter, Rossiter plays a vital role in the offense, but she has also spent time hitting in the middle and on the right side of the court, along with a few appearances at left back.
Her goals for the summer center on strength and ball control.
"Over the summer, I will be most working on getting my hit stronger, and controlling it more, and also my passing," Rossiter said.
Along with her volleyball schedule, Rossiter will be working at her job at Greenview Assisted Living, along with volunteering at youth camps and taking a vacation trip to Lake Chataqua with her family.
Eli Slabaugh - Lake Center Christian cross country
Slabaugh has been winning races for the Tigers since her freshman season, contending with older, more experienced runners and getting plenty of experience competing in challenging races.
Now a senior herself, she’s eyeing a senior season she hopes will be better than the three that came before it based on what she’s learned through three years of varsity running.
"I have three main goals for the summer First, I want to work on my ability to power up hills, especially mid-race," Slabaugh said. "I would also would like to improve my kick - or last sprint- at the end of a race. One last thing I want to do is work on running consistent splits for all three miles."
One of the bigger challenges for the summer is training for her first half-marathon, in which Slabaugh plans to run in August. She also babysits to earn extra money and will be going on a 10-day mission trip to Costa Rica with her church youth group in July.
Nevaeh Mowery - Manchester girls soccer
Soccer is a year-round endeavor for Mowery, who has started the past two and a half seasons at positions ranging from center forward to midfielder to outside winger. Center forward remains her primary position.
"I am definitely on the offensive side of the field," Mowery said.
To get ready for the final season of her high school career, Mowery is playing soccer regularly, having competed indoors in the winter and outdoors in the spring for Canton Akron Soccer, her club team. Being able to compete consistently has made a big difference in her game, she noted.
"This always keeps me in the groove of playing and I'm always getting touches on the ball Individually while also competing against some of the best high-school-level players in the area," Mowery said.
Over the summer, she’ll be focused on improving her shot and becoming more accurate while building her foot skills and becoming more comfortable with the ball on her foot. Playing forward, Mowery believes she needs to be better in holding onto the ball and finishing around the goal. Part of her quest to improve in those areas is to spend more time on lifting and conditioning so she can battle defenders in the box.
Taking on a bigger role as a leader within the team is also on the agenda and while summer is a busy time with camps and tournaments, not to mention her job working at Acme in Green. Add it all up and there will be plenty to take care of in the weeks ahead with her senior season looming.
Josh Lininger - Springfield boys soccer
Lininger is in a unique spot at Springfield High School.
He’s both a student-athlete and a member of the district’s information technologies (IT) department. Along with playing in the band and on the soccer team, he’s also likely to be found helping solve various tech problems at the school.
He’s been on the varsity roster for three years, two as a starter. Playing sweeper, his role is an important one defensively and for a team eager to climb in the Portage Trail Conference standings.
As he looks at the summer ahead, Lininger is locked in on progressing in his passing skills.
"The areas of our game I would like to focus on (are) spreading out and passing the ball quicker and more efficiently," Lininger said.
Working for the IT department and putting in the time to both work on his game and work on strength and conditioning should fill much of the summer. Lininger's goal is to be ready for a bounce-back season for the Spartans.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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