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Boonsboro Football Player Puts in the Hours

Boonsboro Football Player Puts in the Hours
by Eugene Abelow

Michael Austin, a 15-year-old who will be in 10th grade at Boonsboro High School, is setting his sights on becoming an NFL quarterback. This is a lofty goal and the competition will be tough. To help improve his skills, Mike attends camps and spends hours implementing what he has learned by practicing the same drills over and over again. He also attends summer conditioning with the high school football team, the Boonsboro Warriors, and follows a workout regiment at a local gym.
At six feet tall, 160 pounds, Mike still has some growing to do. Today's quarterbacks are tall, lean, and are able to see downfield. But, in the next couple years, Mike expects to catch up with his size 14 feet and reach the height of 6'4". "Some things are just out of my hands so I make the most of what I've got," says Mike when asked about his physical ability. Mike is running the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds as a freshman and expects to improve his time by a half-second before the end of 10th grade. His dad said, "Mike is on good trajectory and we're happy with his performance and his prospects. He's got some natural advantages that will become more obvious over the next couple of years."
"The camps are good because they teach more than just football skills and you get to meet a lot of guys who have the same goals," Mike said after returning from his most recent camp. The SVS Quarterback Leadership Academy (QLA) focused on character and integrity. In a world where so many professional athletes become involved in scandal, today's camps spend much of their teaching time on character development. Impressed with QLA, Mike's dad said, "The camp was about 30% classroom and the player to coach ratio was three to one. The kids got a lot of reps." At camp Mike passes hundreds of times in the 5- to 20-yard range. Reading the defense, executing the plays, and completing the passes are the three goals.
"We didn't work on long bombs too much because 95% of the plays occur within 20-yards of the line, but don't worry, I can get the ball downfield when I have to," Mike said.
Over the summer Mike will either hand-off or pass the football over 10,000 times in addition to the school-conditioning program. Last summer Mike attended every high school practice and even cut his vacation short so he wouldn't miss anything. "The coaches have to know you're serious about playing the position and being part of the team," Mike said. Repetition is the key to making every move more natural. As one of Mike's coaches likes to say, "practice makes permanent."
In addition to the four SVS camps Mike will attend this summer, he has also attended the NFL-National Guard Camp with his Boonsboro teammates, Joe Krivak's QB camp, and an invitation only camp hosted by Football University. To keep his skills sharp in the off-season, Mike also participates in a winter flag football league. He also enjoys basketball and baseball and has played shortstop and pitcher at the all-star level for the past five years. "Playing team sports helps Mike develop as a leader and an athlete," said his dad. "We're very proud of him and his younger sisters really look up to him as a role model."
A typical day begins with a morning workout with a strength trainer. Chad Smith, a local fitness expert has been working with Mike for the past several months to help increase speed, agility, and core strength. Chad says, "Being in good physical condition reduces the chance of getting injured and enables your body to heal faster if something does happen." Three days a week Mike attends the summer conditioning program at Boonsboro High School and the rest of his days are filled with football drills, a little X-Box, swimming, yard work, and baseball. Mike will also start helping out in the family business this summer. He is excited about his baseball team making it to the playoffs and winning the state title. "Our chances are pretty good because at this point we're undefeated."
At school Mike usually maintains respectable grades and participates in the Washington County Youth Court program. He usually makes A's and B's but admits, "It's hard work making good grades and being the best you can be in football and baseball." His teachers recognize him as a "natural leader who is always willing to lend a hand." Mike likes math and has been known to help his fellow teammates who are struggling in the subject. He has already signed up for Latin I and Latin II in his sophomore year, which begins this fall. His plans include studying business and law after high school.
Like Mike there are hundreds of students who are out there doing the right thing and challenging themselves to be better citizens and athletes. An organized sport allows them to become part of a team and teaches them valuable lessons that will stick with them throughout their lives. Supporting local high school athletic programs is a great way to become part of your community. Whether you're a parent of a player or a spectator, supporting local athletes from a young age will help to shape the next generation of professionals so that they make good decisions on and off the field.
Football season is just around the corner. Check your local high school schedule and make a point of attending the games.

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