Recovery an ongoing process for Team USA

By Joe Frollo

With three games in eight days, there isn’t much recovery time for bodies to heal during the 2012 IFAF Under-19 World Championship.

Players and coaches must adjust to the situation and do everything they can to rest both their bodies and minds as games come every few days.

Depending on the player, that can call for daily ice baths, rubdowns or just plain rest. For offensive guard Phil Clay of Plainfield (Ind.) High School, it has been staying off his feet whenever the opportunity allows.

“Just being in your stance for three hours causes wear and tear on your knees,” Clay said after Tuesday’s single practice. “It can get tough in the morning, but it’s about the decisions you make during your free time. For me, if I don’t have to be somewhere, I’m usually in my room stretching or laying down.”

The United States beat American Samoa, 27-6, in Saturday’s opener. Next up is Austria at 8 p.m. CT Wednesday and either the gold medal or bronze medal game this Saturday. All games are streamed live on www.youtube.com/usafootballeducation.

Defensive end Dajuan Drennon of Clemnton (N.J.) Timber Creek High School said getting up the morning after the win over American Samoa was “pretty rough.”

But young bodies tend to bounce back as days go on.

“Once you get up and get moving, the muscles start to loosen and your body starts to recover,” Drennon said. “It’s more about mental toughness and staying focused day after day. As long as you eat well, drink fluids and meet with the trainers, your body tends to take care of itself.”

Offensive line coach Tom Bolden of Cincinnati Colerain High School said the coaching staff is rotating players regularly through practices as well as in games. For most linemen, it’s two or three plays in, then two or three plays off.

Practice tempo has remained light, and coaches are more concerned about getting the players into the right spots than teaching them how to catch, tackle or run.

These athletes have no problem with those parts of the sport.

“This is all new for the coaches as well as the players, and it’s about being smart,” Bolden said. “For players, a physical breakdown can lead to mental lapses. For coaches, it’s about fatigue because you want to spend as much time as possible with your fellow coaches and the players.

“We’ll rest when we get home.”

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GET MOVING  Team USA head trainer Dave Weikel of St. Vincent Sports Medicine in Indianapolis said the key to quicker recovery is what the players do the morning after games.

“If you can get them up and moving to work out the muscles and soreness – not sit around all day – you will be in better shape,” Weikel said.

Lactic acid builds in muscles during activity, causing fatigue. Through light, dynamic stretches, the lactic acid works its way out of the body, assisting recovery.

“The coaches know this is not a normal week of practice to get ready for one game,” Weikel said. “They are doing a great job adjusting.”

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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER  Clay was one of the last players added to the U.S. Under-19 National Team.

He attended the National Team Trials on May 26-28 in Marietta, Ga., hoping to try for a spot in the 2013 International Bowl. When he got the opportunity to come to Austin, he jumped at the chance.

“It was a stressful June practicing with my high school team and filling out all the paperwork for this, but it’s definitely worth it,” he said. “This has been a great experience.”

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GETTING IT RIGHT  Players and coaches aren’t the only ones studying game film in preparation for second-round games. Thirty-one officials representing 12 countries worked Day 1 of the tournament Saturday. Every crew sat down as a group afterward and graded their performances.

“Overall, I think we did pretty good,” said Bill LeMonnier of Tinley Park, Ill., a veteran college official and referee for the Canada vs. Sweden game. “We had a lot of new international officials and as it turns out a lot of excellent ones. We broke down the film Sunday, went over games and the attitude was great. There were things we did well and things we didn’t do so well, but the officials are here to learn and get better.”

Saturday’s two morning games featured all U.S. officials, while LeMonnier oversaw a mixed crew and United States vs. Samoa was strictly non-U.S. IFAF rules stipulate that an official is not allowed to call games involving their own country.