GHS football

The fall football season is mere weeks away and the Gainesville Leopards aren’t slowing down their preparation for the impending grind.

Gainesville Athletic Director James Polk said the key to success for summer conditioning is to have enthusiasm from the athletes.

“They want to be successful and you can't make them come,” Polk said. “All you can do is encourage them. It's not like during athletic period or during the season. It's gotten better, but it's still not where we need to be.”

Polk said he has seen improvement in the summer program through the three years he has been at Gainesville.

“I know our daily average attendance has gone up and there's been times in years past where we might have 13 kids and they are more coaches than kids, but this year, we're averaging a lot of guys,” Polk said.

The University Interscholastic League has added two hours per week for coaches to do some sport-specific instruction.

Polk said he has enjoyed the change.

“Last year, we didn't get enough time,” Polk said. “Guys can do some workouts, but it couldn't be sports-specific. We couldn't go pull a football out and get started going over plays. This year, you can do that kind of stuff as long as it doesn't go over two hours. The plan has really worked out like we wanted.”

The expectations are higher this summer and for next season, according to Polk.

“We've demanded excellence,” Polk said. “And we've demanded perfect technique. We've repeated and repeated and repetitively simplified. We've tried to make as many things consistent as we can. Lifting weights is an expectation. It's mandatory during the season. So if you always have that approach, then it will eventually rub off on the kids and they'll be there.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip