FDA preparing for 2012 campaign

Published 9:23 am Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fort Dale Academy head coach James "Speed" Sampley and the Eagles are busy preparing for the 2012 season. (File Photo)

Fort Dale Academy head coach James “Speed” Sampley does not believe in the concept of a rebuilding season.

“Winning is not something we just want to talk about — we expect to win every year,” he said.

Looking back on his 13-year history at Fort Dale Academy, it is apparent that Sampley practices what he preaches. During his tenure at FDA, the team has had just one losing season on record — last season’s 4-7 campaign. The reasons behind those losses are evident, and something he plans to address — and correct — during the harsh summer months.

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“We turned the ball over 27 times last season in 11 games,” Sampley said. “Obviously, we’re spending a lot of time on ball security.”

On paper, the Eagles’ summer workout routine doesn’t look all that different from that of other teams. They meet at 6:30 a.m. because Sampley says it gets them out of bed and lets them concentrate early on what they’re doing. The team meets three days a week for what many would consider traditional conditioning training, consisting of running and lifting weights.

“It’s an opportunity for everybody to get stronger, and hopefully a little bigger, in the weight room,” Sampley said.

Perhaps the most unique and important focus Sampley places through the summer workout season is on mental toughness, which he admits himself is a very difficult thing to teach.

“I don’t mean this in a bad way, but we actually try our best to make the summer workouts very difficult,” Sampley said. “We do that very specifically so that they learn to push themselves.”

With a chip on their shoulders and the renewed focus on effort and mental toughness, the Eagles are aiming to be a serious threat for the 2012 season, and a rough Friday night for at least 10 unlucky AISA teams.