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Huntsville Lady Hornet student-athletes line up to stretch during the first day of summer workouts earlier this month.

With two weeks of summer workouts in the books, the Huntsville Lady Hornets have ample reason for optimism.

Huntsville, which didn’t have a summer workout program for female student-athletes a few years ago, has experienced a record turnout so far in 2020. The Lady Hornets had 125 girls (grades 7-12) show up for the first day of summer training, a program-best, with more than 150 taking part in workouts over the past couple weeks.

“Workouts have been going really well,” Huntsville volleyball coach and assistant athletic director Cody Hassell said. “Usually we’ll start workouts at the beginning of the summer and have somewhere between 75-80 girls. Then when July hits, and people want to go on vacation and to church and sports camps, we see it fall down to 35-40 on average.

“The last couple days have been our lowest days, and we’ve still had 55-plus girls.”

Hassell notes that summer workouts — especially given that the UIL shut down all sports in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — have benefited Huntsville athletes in more ways than one.

“I think the skills training works two-fold,” he said. “For one, with the girls not having the opportunity to practice their craft since before spring break, it gives them a chance to knock off the rust and get their confidence back. Then at the same time, I think it helps them both emotionally and mentally to get out of the house.

“Some of these kids have gone so long without even taking a trip to the grocery store, and they get to see their friends — albeit six feet apart from each other. But they get to see their friends and be a part of something bigger than just being stuck at home for the last three months.”

In addition to the increase in student-athlete participation, Hassell has gained optimism by the way Huntsville’s coaches have shown up throughout the voluntary workouts, noting that the Lady Hornets “have multiple coaches from every sport, every single day.”

“We’ve had some coaching changes over the last five years, but one thing Coach Southern and I keep saying is, ‘Our coaching staff is getting stronger every year,’” Hassell said.

“We had a conversation with the coaches that while we can’t force you to come to summer workouts, we’re telling the kids they should probably be here. Our coaches are all in right now, giving it everything they’ve got and really stepping up.”

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