During the second week of Spring Break, March 18-24, more than 150 upper school athletes and coaches headed to Florida for a week of training, team building, and camaraderie. The Vikings spanned across Florida to the Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, the Austin Tindall Sports Complex in Kissimmee, the Saddlebrook Golf and Tennis Academy in Wesley Chapel, and the Stetson University in Deland.
For the first time in four years, nine spring sports programs, including athletes from 13 different teams, were able to return to Florida to jumpstart their spring season in tremendous fashion!
The Varsity Baseball, JV Baseball, and Varsity Softball teams took the opportunity to work on individual and team-oriented skills throughout their time at Disney. The teams had a full schedule of practices and scrimmages, facing out-of-state opponents at the top-notch Wide World of Sports facility. Team building was a central component of the training, both on and off the field. During their downtime, the players enjoyed visits to the Disney Theme Parks and sat down for team-organized dinners, which allowed them to develop relationships further.
This year was particularly special as it was the fifteenth year Softball has trained at Disney. Mickey Mouse met the team upon arrival and presented the Vikings with their 15-year trophy!
The Girls and Boys Lacrosse teams participated in a KSA Events program, staying at Universal Studios in Orlando and training and competing at the Austin Tindall Sports Complex in Kissimmee. Skill development sessions and multiple warm-up scrimmages allowed both teams to unite on the turf. Dinners at the Hard Rock Cafe and Fogo de Chao, a scavenger hunt inside the hotel, and several trips to the Universal parks helped each team bond off of the field as well. Both teams are poised to start the season fresh and ready!
Students representing Varsity and JV Girls and Boys Tennis, Varsity Girls Golf, and Varsity and JV Boys Golf took advantage of the beautiful weather Wesley Chapel, Florida had to offer at the Saddlebrook Golf and Tennis Academy. The tennis athletes trained with professionals throughout the week, emphasizing instructional drills in the morning and match play in the afternoon and maximizing the court time and training opportunities. King golf coaches ran training along with Saddlebrook professionals for the Viking golfers who enjoyed full access to the two beautiful Arnold Palmer golf courses on the Saddlebrook property and the range, pitching, and putting areas. Vikings trained for up to five hours daily, preparing physically and mentally for the upcoming season.
The trip to Saddlebrook wasn’t solely centered around athletic training. Downtime fun included Walmart runs, pool days, movie nights, and March Madness watch parties as students built connections that will set the foundation for great team chemistry! Bryce Heaton ’23, senior class president and senior captain for Boys Tennis, was grateful for his time at Saddlebrook.
“This year’s tennis trip was my first and, unfortunately, my last,” Bryce said. “It was a great trip in which relationships were built between upper and lower classmen.”
The final report takes us to Deland, Florida, where athletes from the Spring Crew Team had a very productive training trip at Stetson University. Stetson offers a full concierge service for visiting rowing teams from all over the world. Set on Lake Beresford, it is one of the best rowing sites in the country. The Vikings were able to use all of Stetson’s facilities to train, condition, and work on their technique. As a group, they rowed countless kilometers and put in hard strokes, dodging both manatees and alligators! King Crew had a great time in the sun and getting back on the water.
The spring training trips allowed the athletes to develop on the fields, courts, courses, and water and grow and learn together at these incredible facilities across Florida! Photo galleries of each team’s trip are available here.
As Spring Break ended, action started for all teams, including Track and Field. Varsity Baseball kicked off the regular season on Thursday with a home opener against Rye Country Day School. In a thrilling, come-from-behind contest, the Vikings rallied in the sixth and seventh inning, getting six runs to tie the game, before senior John Freeman laid down the perfect squeeze bunt to drive in the winning run from third to cap the incredible comeback for the 10-9 victory!