The coaches have left the building. The summer-time dead week is in full swing this week as players and coaches prepare for the first day of official regular season fall practice begins on Monday. Perryville softball coach Dustin Wengert told his players last week just how he wanted them to spend their time during this “dead” period.
“I really don’t want them to do anything,” Wengert said. “I want the kids to be kids. I want them to go swimming, go have fun and hang out with their friends, and do other summer-type things that they might not have been doing up to this point because they have been so focused on getting better during the offseason. I follow all that up by saying that I don’t want them to be silly and get in trouble.”
The Missouri State High School Activities Association has set this year’s dead week from August 3-11. MSHSAA describes the dead week on its website as a time when “school facilities are not utilized by enrolled students in connection with any sport or activity governed by MSHSAA. The dead period is a “no school activities time”; meaning no open gyms, competitions, practices, conditioning, weight training; no activity-related functions or fundraisers.”
In other words Wengert and the other local coaches can’t set up any practices or other official softball related activities. He thinks it’s one of the better things the state has implemented over the years.
“I think it’s one of the best things that MSHSAA has ever done,” Wengert said. “I think some coaches get carried away in the summer and think they have to prep all the way up to the start of the season. This is just that mandatory time when everybody gets to take the breath from offseason activities to get away and take a vacation or time to lay around on the couch for a little bit. Nowadays there is a lot of emphasis on the game and offseason workouts, it’s really so much different than when I was playing in high school. You have to have that mental break.”
However, Wengert knows that while some athletes may take full advantage of the break, there will be some that, in his sport’s instance, take some swings off the tee or play catch with some teammates. But he stressed that he wanted them to do that stuff on their own.
“I don’t want them to think that they have to be forced out there on the field or in the batting cage from 3:30-6 p.m.” Wengert said “I want them to take those 25-30 swings off the tee with their headphones in, and have it be a relaxing time. There’s no pressure this week of trying to perform or impress anybody.”
While Wengert and his players take time to relax this week, the opposite can be said for the athletic directors and other administration when it comes to this so-called dead week.
St. Vincent Athletic Director Bruce Valleroy it is also a time for him to get his things in order for the upcoming season.
“I make sure the uniforms are ready to go and make sure the players have practice and game schedules and update them if we need to,” Valleroy said. “It gives us a week to get ready for the season and not stop for awhile. It’s all about tying up those odds and ends that people don’t really talk about or realize is happening.”
As for Valleroy’s basketball duties, the dead week does not affect his team too much, because they do much of their work in the months of May and June.
“July is a time for me to get away for a little bit and relax and get ready for the next school year,” Valleroy said. “A lot of our kids do football camps in July, so we try not to make everything conflict with each other, so the kids aren’t doing two sports in one day.”
Many of the coaches hope the kids stay active during the week so they don’t develop much rust before regular season practice begins.
“The girls may have a little rust,” Wengert said. “But it won’t be anything they can’t knock off in the first practice.