Several times a week over the last four years, a group of teenagers has gathered at area parks and completed an offseason athletic training regimen under the watchful eye of Greg Alvarez and his wife Deborah.
Alvarez, an assistant baseball coach in the spring and a lineman coach for Los Banos High’s freshman football team, calls his program P.R.I.D.E. – Program of Running, Intense training, Discipline and Education.
“About four years ago, when they did away with sports over at the junior high, I saw there was going to be a need for some other type of program for kids to get conditioning or training, whether it be basketball, baseball, softball, I knew there was still a need for that,” Alvarez said. “I know there’s other programs other people have opened up, like Crossfit, but that can get costly. I’ve been doing it for free, but some folks have opened up the donations.”
The drills Alvarez runs his participants through are mostly conditioning drills – ladders, squats, cone drills, vertical leaps and the like. He’ll also work with students on sport-specific drills.
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“We work on the proper way to run, depending on if you’re, let’s say a softball or baseball player, the fundamentals of base stealing,” he said. “Some kids will come out to get ready for football, so we’ll work on the skills they need to develop. For baseball and basketball, we’ll work on quick-feet drills.
“Like I tell kids and parents, this is just a way for them to understand that if athletics are going to be part of their future, it’s better to start learning the proper way to do things.”
Several members from the Sun Devils and the Skeeters travel softball teams, which are both away at national-level tournaments this week, participate in Alvarez’s program. He said there’s usually about 25 to 30 youths at each workout. He keeps them going throughout the summer, then reconvenes during the winter break.
“Parents have the big dream that they want their kids to go on and do well in high school,” he said. “And I tell them, boy or girl, from a young age, so long as they follow the right type of program – my program or somebody else’s program – as long as they stick it out year round, they’ll find that things like that are possible.
“Many of the kids in my program, their parents come over and thank me and say this is what they did at their Parks and Rec game, or this is what they did swimming. That kind of feedback lets me know that I’m helping.”