When a sport is in-season, team members spend hours practicing and at competitions and games.

But what many do not realize is that that hard work continues in the off-season.

“Our goal throughout the entire off-season is to create a culture of accountability and discipline with our kids,” says Eric De Los Santos, athletic coordinator and head football coach at Irving High School. “We develop camaraderie and develop leadership and really harp on our grades.”

The off-season is a time to establish goals for the upcoming season.

“Our motto is CDR – commitment, discipline and respect. Commitment – being 110 percent in; discipline – being able to listen; and respect – being how you want to be treated,” says Isaiah Gipson, Nimitz sophomore. “I work hard all of the time, because I like giving all of my effort into it.”

Leaders are molded through the hard work of the off-season.

“Throughout the off-season, you see leaders arise, or you try to build that character in some people to see who is going to be able to step out there and be a leader,” says MacArthur junior Tré Howard. “We’ll have leadership meetings, we’ll have team bonding to have better chemistry with teammates.”

Ultimately, the off-season is the time to lay down the groundwork.

“Through hard work, you build doors, and opportunity will knock on those doors,” says Coach De Los Santos. “The harder you work, the more doors you’re going to build and the more opportunity you’ll have. So the biggest thing for us is creating a culture of belief with our kids that if they put in the work, good things will happen.”

Howard agrees.

“If you don’t put in the work, it’s going to show in the fall. It’s just going to show.”