It’s the calm before the storm of the fall high school sports season.

After a summer full of camps and workouts, the period from Aug. 1 to Aug. 14 serves as the hands-off period, a time mandated by the Maine Principals’ Association, where no organized team activities take place.

But while this period is viewed as a “summer recess,” as described in the MPA football bulletin, conditioning is still on the minds of area athletes before fall camps begin on Aug. 15.

“I’m going to start lifting some more,” said Cony offensive lineman Jaden Geyer. “There’s nothing better than lifting weights for fun. I’ll definitely relax some, but I’m going to pump some metal and get some workouts in, maybe, and then we’ll come back and get ready for the regular season.”

Geyer was part of last week’s Central Maine Football Skills Challenge in Skowhegan, a last chance for area players to engage in a coach-organized situation before the hands-off period. Cony head coach B.L. Lippert said he hopes his players continue the momentum they put in during the summer, while also enjoying some time off.

“We’ve done a lot of work this summer,” Lippert said. “The kids will still condition and lift a bit the next couple weeks. (It’s important that they) encourage some of their friends to come out and play football. We’re always trying to recruit more kids to come out and play. It’s also good for them to enjoy some time off as well. We go pretty hard, and these kids get stretched pretty thin over the summer, whether it’s football, basketball or baseball with American Legion. They need that couple weeks to relax before it gets pretty serious Aug. 15.”


Gardiner football coach Patrick Munzing said by the time the hands-off period comes, players have an idea where they are at in terms of conditioning and what final preparations need to be made before camp.

“We had our football clinic (before breaking off) last week, which went fantastic,” Munzing said. “The way we kind of closed everything off with that was, ‘You guys all know where you’re at. If you’ve been active all summer long, this is a great time to take two weeks, because we’ve got a long haul and you know what our goals are, and we’re planning on being in this thing for the next three and a half, four months, putting in a lot of work and effort. If you’re a guy that’s just finally getting going, then use these two weeks to prepare for when preseason starts.’ We kind of put the responsibility on the kids to kind of let them know what’s coming Aug. 15.”

Rangeley goalie Nichole Lemay makes a save as Mount View’s Ilsa Petrak looks for the rebound in the Western Mountain 7v7 Soccer Classic July 29 at Mt. Abram High School in Strong. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Western Mountain 7v7 Summer Classic at Mt. Abram High School — which involved boys and girls soccer teams from all over the state — served as final get-together last week before the hands-off period. Players at the tournament said it was imperative to remain active during the hands-off period.

“I try to stay active as best I can,” said Skowhegan senior Maddy Thorndike. “I go to the gym. Last year, as a junior, (some players) would just go to the field in the morning (and run), just kind of keeping together as a team, just so we could start preseason in shape already, you don’t have to use preseason to get in shape.”

Maranacook girls soccer coach Travis Magnusson said it’s important for players to self-evaluate where they’re at, mentally and physically, before the start of fall camp.

“We have some kids who have played three sports that have been all-out straight through the summer,” Magnusson said. “They might need two weeks where they do absolutely nothing. There might be some kids who might need a little more conditioning, a little bit more running. It’s just figuring out what’s good for them, whether it’s a lot of work in these two weeks, or just no work. I think everybody’s different, and I let them figure that out for the most part. Usually they have a pretty good understanding of that, too.”


Francesca Caccamo, a recent Messalonskee High School graduate, will be playing field hockey in the fall at the University of New England in Biddeford. A former three-sport star (field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse) with the Eagles, Caccamo routinely stayed busy during the summer months before the field hockey season would begin.

“Usually we get workout packets and if we feel the need to workout or work on skills more (before the season), we’d follow that,” Caccamo said. “But in my younger years of high school, I didn’t really have time to do the packets, because I was always playing the sport, whether it was a summer team, or even a camp, because I did a lot of those junior year… My senior summer has been the most free (I’ve ever been), because I would have sports almost every day. It’s crazy insane. It’s good to have a break, definitely.”

Though Caccamo enjoys the break, she does recommend to fellow field hockey players to move around during the hands-off break.

Winslow High School goalie Laine Bell (22) makes a save against Messalonskee on July 23 at Thomas College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I would definitely (recommend) staying active,” Caccamo said. “(Nutrition) is important, too. When you workout, it’s crazy how your appetite changes. Definitely fueling your body (is important). And with (stick) skills, just stay sharp with it. I just pick up my stick on some days, and I didn’t feel like I’d want to do that, I’d go for a run, or even a walk.”

Lawrence field hockey coach Shawna Robinson said while she encourages her players to stay active in the final two weeks, it’s also important to relax and have fun.

“We always tell them, before the summer even starts, that this two weeks is great to be with your family, do your family vacation then,” Robinson said. “We try to stress to them to enjoy being a kid, most of all, but also don’t lose what you’ve gained (from workouts). Whether that means getting together, you’re allowed to have the captains organize (workouts). Most of all, stay conditioned, so that in two weeks, you don’t have to come back (to camp) and have to start all over again.”


The hands-off period provides a time for coaches to make final preparations, as well as spend some much needed time with family before the every day grind of a season that starts in August and ends in November.

“These two weeks are the most chaotic weeks of the season for me, honestly,” Munzing said. “You’re kind of wrapping up your summer stuff, and you’re trying to tie everything up to get ready for preseason. All your lists (are set), making sure you’ve got equipment ready, making sure the pads are ready, making sure you’ve got everything crossed out in your playbook.”

“My wife and I, we always block out these two weeks, these are our vacation weeks,” said Magnusson, who is married to Maranacook girls basketball coach Karen Magnusson. “We’ll go to all sorts of locations with the kids. The summer gets busy, so this is a nice two weeks before we start the season for us to kind of get away.”


Morning Sentinel sports reporter Mike Mandell contributed to this story.


Dave Dyer — 621-5640

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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