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Behind the gridiron: A day in the life of a football player

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Will Wood (number 71), poses for a picture with his teammates after a Homestead football game.

Will Wood (number 71), poses for a picture with his teammates after a Homestead football game.

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Will Wood (number 71), poses for a picture with his teammates after a Homestead football game.

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It’s 6:15 a.m. on a Monday morning when the alarm goes off in sophomore Will Wood’s room as he thinks of what every other teen in Mequon is thinking: ‘Oh no, it’s Monday.’

However, contrary to the arbitrary teen reasons for being annoyed in a Monday morning, Wood, a varsity defensive tackle football player, is rather nervous about his day. More specifically his 3:15 p.m. football practice, the hardest day of the week.

Wood, a six feet tall sophomore, can easily be spotted roaming around the Homestead hallways with an affectionate smile. His robust figure might portray as intimidating at first, but his fun personality redefines all stereotypes.

After all, he is still just like any other regular Homestead student… or almost: “You go to school like anybody else, except we spend our lunch periods with the team learning about football,” Wood said.

As the final bell of the school day rings, many students happily head home for the day, but instead of that luxury, Will heads towards the football locker room. Arriving at his locker, Wood gets into his uniform and heads for the field, already exhausted. “You’re coming off the weekend, you don’t want to go to school and then you just want to go home, but then you remember you have practice,” Wood said.

Despite the fatigue, Wood clarifies that the football workouts never fail to wake him up all over again. Throughout the series of high-intensity conditioning workouts, endurance and consistency is key. Whether it is the sprint ladders, stride intervals, or simulated games, the pressure is on. As head coordinator, Coach Keel, patrols the boys and expects nothing more but his players’ best.

“We expect all of our players to be exemplary students, significant leaders and outstanding role models in and out of school.  The ability to develop these skills will help set the table for future success both in college and beyond,” Coach Keel said.

The demanding physical effort can be very exhausting at times for Wood, but he persists on every day with the same motivation in mind: playing well in the next game and making his school proud. In a way, there really isn’t another choice for the varsity football players but to keep playing and stay positive since there is virtually no off-days dedicated to recovery. “I just ice as much as possible,” Wood said.

While some sport teams may not require as much commitment, the varsity football team is out every single day working their hardest. The players are expected to have a great attendance in addition to their daily hard efforts.

“There are no breaks. When school is off, we still have practice, and if you’re not celebrating a holiday, you’re still going to practice,” Wood said.

If anything, the daily afternoon practices might be seen as a relief from the workouts earlier in the season. Wood and his teammates had practices twice a day from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the summer where once again, attendance was mandatory. In addition, the boys had practice even before the season started.

“We spend many hours in the off season helping our athletes to become better students, athletes and leaders,” Coach Keel said.

Wood confessed that these exacting daily practice routines wouldn’t be the same without the incredible bond the players have with their coaches and most importantly, with each other. Will’s teammates are as essentially a family to him; they give him a primary support system after each day’s hard practice. He couldn’t ask for anything better.

“It’s just like a brotherhood,” Wood said.

And despite the sport breaking him down both mentally and physically, Wood wouldn’t change it for the world. 

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The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.
Behind the gridiron: A day in the life of a football player