By Sophie Tulp, shawneemissionpost.com intern
It might be hard to imagine 6-foot-2inch, 230-pound middle linebacker Kyle Ball in a dance studio practicing ballet, but that’s just one component of Ball’s summer workout regimen in Manhattan as he trains with the K-State football team, preparing to take the field in the spring next year.
Ball, former SM East defensive back who boasts awards such as Sunflower Football Blog’s Most Valuable Player Award and 2014’s Sunflower League Defensive Player of the Year, is one of three incoming freshmen on the Wildcat football team who are “grayshirting” – starting their scholarships and taking their places on the team starting spring semester of 2016, rather than in the fall.
Ball arrived in Manhattan for summer conditioning on June 7th, and has since started an intense summer schedule of workouts, practices and drills preparing for the upcoming football season.
A typical day for Ball starts with a morning run in the stadium at 6 a.m., followed by weightlifting at 8:15 a.m. led by strength and conditioning coach Chris Dawson, a 20-year veteran in the field of strength training. After weight lifting, Ball heads to daily class from 12:40-2:40 p.m.
“All the freshmen are required to take like a dance class,” Ball said. “We did ballet and we’re going over jazz next week. It helps coordination and its just an easier class to get adjusted to college and know your way around. I’ve just been open minded about it.”
In addition to Ball’s dance class, he takes a leadership class everyday. Developed by Coach Bill Snyder, the leadership class prepares the athletes to cultivate their leadership skills on and off the field, and adds to the overall training of the players, which is as much mental as it is physical.
On days that they don’t have morning class, the team will run defensive and offensive drills and practice playing seven-on-seven. Most days contain running, which Ball calls “pretty intense,” in addition to position-specific drills.
Finally, a day is finished off by grabbing something to eat in the dorms, and bonding with fellow teammates.
“I’m with my freshmen teammates 24/7, and we’re all getting pretty close already,” Ball said. “We do everything together, so it’s only been a week but I already know them all pretty well.”
As Ball begins his time as a Wildcat, he says he feels pretty well prepared from his high school football career. The difference between football at the high school and collegiate level is the intensity.
“The intensity is a lot different, the coaches are more on you for detail,” Ball said. “But, I felt like our high school program prepared me pretty well. I don’t feel like a fish out of the water at all. So far I’m keeping up well.”
Ball heads home from summer conditioning in August, where he will attend class at Johnson County Community College and continue summer workout programs, as well as train with former K-State linebacker and 10-year NFL veteran Mark Simoneau, who helped train Ball his junior year as he was preparing for college football camps.