PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Most of us like to "kick it" at the beach to relax over summer, but some youth soccer players are quite literally kicking in the sand, practicing and conditioning for the season ahead.
Arnold junior and Florida United member Zach Davis dribbles during a beach scrimmage.
Once you add soccer balls and a demanding coach, a beach day with Florida United Futbol Club becomes pretty hard work—even at sunset!
Tuesday and Thursday each week, members meet where land meets the sea and get pushed to the limit.
"The drills that we do are running and sprinting so it gets really tiring," Zach Davis said.
"The sand just slows you down! And you're constantly running or doing exercises," Koda Klamser added. "What makes it the best is, it's very fun," the fourth grader added.
A lot of effort, but a lot of smiles throughout the hour and a half sessions.
"It's a love hate relationship for them," club director Jona Hammond said. "It's fun, it's a challenge. It's different. We take them off the soccer field. Being here on the beach, we trick their minds into thinking we're just out here playing games when actually they're doing a lot of fitness work and getting in shape."
Training right behind Schooners Beach Club also tricks the parents into coming out.
Unorthodox? Sure...but that's the norm for any Hammond team.
"It's something I've done now for not only my club, but for [Arnold] high school. We come out to the beach sometimes and we'll do yoga. It's kind of relaxing."
And it produces results.
For older players like Davis, a sophomore on Hammond's varsity team that made it to the state quarterfinals in February, fun in the sun and sand could set up another run at a title.
"It's not just a regular practice," Davis admitted. "It's also staying in shape for the regular season. I mean, it comes up quick."
And by then, they're usually cleaner!
"I'm ready to take a shower! And I hate showers," Klamser said with a smile. "It's pretty much the only time I ever want to take a shower. I turn into a powdered doughnut!"
By the time the offseason is over, they'll all turn into better athletes.
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