Self-discipline plays a big role in a high school athlete’s ability to succeed.

COVENTRY TWP.  Self-discipline plays a big role in a high school athlete’s ability to succeed.

The activities and conditioning players do with their teams are part of the process, but it’s often the work they do on their own that separates them from the competition. Coventry senior soccer player Emily Mungo has seen those who went before her and worked hard to make their senior season special and wants to do the same now that it’s her turn.

“It is hard, but then I just think that it’s my last year and this is it, this is the last summer I’m going to have to train for high school soccer,” Mungo said. “I want to make the most of it and there are days when I do slack a little bit, but the next day I get right back at it because I think, ‘What are you doing?’ This is your last year, so just go do what you’ve got to do.’”

Mungo pointed to Megan Fuller, the top player for the Comets last season, and teammate Kim Snow as two players who taught her the importance of putting in extra work on her own and not simply relying on what she does in practice.

She and Snow often to go Firestone Metro Park and run the trails and hills to help with conditioning and endurance. They also spend time lifting weights in Mungo’s basement and running the roads around her house, all with the aim of making her senior season the best it can be.

Asked when it set in that she needed to go above and beyond in her training, Mungo pointed to a series of moments that occurred over the course of past seasons.

“Mid-game or even during practices when I’m winded and I shouldn’t be, I realize I need to work a little harder on my own and not just rely on what we do in practice,” Mungo said. “I feel like doing hills will make me quicker hopefully, but trails will help with my endurance, being able to keep my breath longer.”

At the urging of head coach Greg Kulick, Mungo also spends time in the evenings going outside and getting as many touches as possible with the soccer ball. She tries to continue the same drills, skills and habits the team does in practices and build on them with her individual work.

Underneath it all is a realization that this is her final chance to make an impact for her team. The label of high school senior can take time to sink in for a student, but athletes get a dose of it earlier than most because they work out with their teammates during the summer.

“It’s scary and it pushes me to make me want to be my best and put as much work as I can in this summer to improve myself and hopefully try to help me lead my team with the other seniors to do as much as we can,” Mungo said.

In addition to her skill and conditioning work, Mungo is also trying to improve her nutritional habits to further boost the work she does on the road and trails and in the weight room. Many teenagers don’t give a lot of thought to what they eat and can often get away with pizza, fast food and soda without seeing the resulting physical effects as much as an adult would, but trying to make smart food choices is something Mungo has locked in on of late.

“Just try to push myself to work out at least five times a week … get in better shape and eat better,” she explained, adding that there are times when eating healthy is very difficult. “When I’m with my friends and when I’m not at home to be able to make my own meals that I know are better for me, or when I’m out at my friends’ houses and trying to find the best thing to eat then is kind of rough when they’re not all about eating healthy, but I just try to stick with it as much as I can.”

The idea of self-discipline underlies all of her summer work, with the end goal of a senior season that surpasses the success the Comets have enjoyed the past two seasons. Mungo wants her senior season to meet or surpass or expectations and to make that happen, she’s trying to hold herself to a higher standard. 

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB