Training and workouts are a summertime rite of passage for high school athletes.
At tracks, in parks and on roadways one can see young runners—some in groups, some in isolation—jogging and pushing themselves to prepare for upcoming track and cross-country seasons. Soccer, lacrosse and field hockey players play and travel with club teams and attend training camps. Boys’ and girls’ basketball teams compete in summer leagues and in tournaments to sharpen their skills and build teamwork.
Many of these student-athletes sacrifice jobs and the pleasure of just relaxing at poolside or the mall. They’ll tell you they do it to get better, to help their team, perhaps to win a state championship, and for a fortunate few, to earn an athletic scholarship.
For the Quince Orchard High School football team that has played and lost in the past two Maryland 4A state championship games, all of those motivations apply. But above all of them seems to be one more motivator more poignant and, one senses, more personal, as they slog their way through a four-day-a-week grind of running, weightlifting, conditioning, and speed and agility training.
“We’re doing it for Tyler Terry,” said Charles Bell, Jr., a junior defensive back.
“For Tyler Terry,” said Marquez Cooper, a junior running back.
“For Tyler,” said Jack Williamson, a senior offensive lineman.
Tyler Terry was a standout defensive lineman and tight end on the 2016 and 2017 state runner-up teams who died suddenly last February from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Terry was popular with his teammates and throughout the school community and had earned a scholarship to play football at Division I Monmouth University.
Various remembrances sprung up at QO following Terry’s death, and his football teammates pledged to dedicate the upcoming season to his memory.
“It’s really just for (Terry),” said Aaron Green, a senior defensive back. “After we found out the news, we just knew that we’re doing it for him.”
Green and others described the team bonding that comes from spending two to three hours a day, four days a work, running on the Cougar Dome track or doing speed and agility drills outdoors in the brutal heat and lifting in the steamy weight room in the basement of QO.
“We’ve just been coming together as a team … after what we just went through with our friend passing away. It’s really key that we focus on coming together.”
“We grind together so that we stay together,” said Cooper. He and some of his teammates said they also put in extra workouts on their own.
Senior offensive lineman Mark Echeverria said he and his teammates work especially hard during their speed and agility training. “We go hard … because that’s where we want to get better, faster, stronger.”
Indeed, some of the team members say they enjoy the workouts and the regular camaraderie with their teammates.
“It’s not too bad because I enjoy this, so it’s not really like a job for me,” Williamson said.
The bad taste of losing the state championship the past two years to Wise High School also drives the returning members of those teams.
“My motivation is just to help our team get back to states … just to try to get that ring this year,” said Echeverria, who was a starting guard on last year’s Cougars.
“State championship, that’s our motivation,” echoed Bell.
“It’s like—it’s not really difficult,” said Green. “If you have a goal, then you will sacrifice what you have to do just to get here, come to workouts and all that.”
“We’re gonna win it for (Terry),” he said. “That’s been our motivation, and it’s going to stay the motivation this whole season.”