Sycamore boys track coach Pete Piccony doesn't necessarily like to go out and recruit kids to join his team. He'd rather let them join on their own accord.
But if he did try to convince kids to join the team, he'd have a rather convincing and simple pitch, especially for football players.
“We offer a way to increase their speed without having to pay money for it,” Piccony said.
While athletes in sports like basketball and soccer have plenty of options to improve by playing club sports, track may be the best way for football players to get better in the offseason.
Area track teams are littered with football players. And while plenty of athletes join the team for the self-contained benefits, track and field has plenty of benefits that directly apply to football. Two of the area's top young running backs, sophomores Dre Brown and Dion Hooker, are also two of the top area sprinters.
“Football goes hand-in-hand with track,” Brown said. “There are a lot of benefits for track. A lot of people in the spring, they'll just not do very much but lift. You're actively running so you won't tear anything or pull anything. It also keeps you in great shape, too. You're getting the full-body workout.”
Track doesn't only benefit the area's quickest athletes.
The sport also benefits linemen, who usually become throwers in track. And while the weight-lifting that comes with the throwing events is important, the main benefit to practicing shot put and discus is much more intricate and complicated than simply bulking up.
“Throwing helps me because of the footwork,” DeKalb sophomore lineman and thrower Devonte Thompson said. “I'm learning the glide [for shot put], and the glide helps me move across the ring and get as much power as possible and then explode at the finish. Then in the discus, it's more about balance for me. I'm trying to learn my form for the discus, the spin, you get more balance and you stay in control.”
Throwers have to build perfect footwork so that by the time they reach the edge of the ring, they're ready to explode. Much like a lineman's objective, throwers want to exact as much power as possible in a short burst.
“Let's say like in pass protection, I have to drop back and that kind of translates to the glide, dropping back and exploding back,” Thompson said.
Plenty of athletes go to expensive trainers throughout the winter and spring before football training begins over the summer, but Hooker thinks that going out for the track team is just as beneficial.
“I try to keep a lot of my workouts the same, lifting and just staying healthy,” Hooker said. “I just kind of use track as my trainer … Obviously this is a little different, but track just keeps me in shape.”