WOODLAND — We always hear about the athletes with perfect attendance in the weight room, who never miss a conditioning session in the offseason, all in an effort to get ready for football season.
All quality programs need those players.
However, there are times when an athlete’s mental well being demands a break.
Quality football programs can recognize such situations, and then welcome back that player when he returns, as long as he is fully committed when he does make it back to the squad.
The Woodland Beavers are 4-3, including 3-0 in the 2A Greater St. Helens League, and have a chance to win the league championship Friday night when they host Hockinson. And they would not be here without quarterback Adam Shoup.
Interestingly, just two weeks prior to the start of practice, no one knew if Shoup was going to play.
“I just needed to get my mind straight,” Shoup said.
For some players, enduring an 0-9 season might be motivation to get back to work as soon as possible, to make sure a year like that would not happen again.
For Shoup, that 0-9 record in 2010 was just hellish. He could not get it out of his mind.
“Do I want to go through another one of those seasons?” he asked himself. “I didn’t want to go another nine weeks, every week, just losing. We had a couple straight up embarrassing losses last year.”
For some, it was easier to just let go and move on to 2011.
For Shoup, the quarterback, it was almost too much to endure.
“I know it wasn’t all my fault, but I still felt part of it was me,” he said. “I threw a ton of interceptions.”
Last spring, as baseball season ended, Shoup told football coach Mark Greenleaf that he would not be there for spring football.
“I wanted to see how much I missed it, to see if I could handle not being around it,” Shoup said.
His plan was to attend the spring jamboree in mid-June, but a family gathering took him out of town that week. Instead, he wasn’t missing it. He worked a $9-an-hour job.
“I was making some money. I was liking that,” he said.
He said he tried to run once a week to stay in shape. Yes, he understands how pathetic that sounds. Once a week? That’s not really staying in shape, not varsity-athlete-kind-of-shape, anyway.
“I was mentally out, off the team,” Shoup said. “I’d still hang with my friends (on the team), but I didn’t want to talk football.”
Still, there was something inside that was nagging at him. Slowly, he began to realize that perhaps he should give football one more try.
His parents told him they would support any decision he made, but they also told him they would love to see him play his senior year. They also did not want their son to have any regrets.
That got to Adam.
“I didn’t want to be one of those guys who say, ‘I should have played.’”
Shoup went from a retired football player to everyday player just like that.
“Right when I made up my mind, I was 100 percent back to football,” Shoup said. “I was lifting every day, running every day.”
“He assured me his mind was in the right place, and it was full team,” Greenleaf confirmed.
Shoup’s teammates accepted him back right away, too. Shoup said Cy Whitmire was a catalyst, always believing Shoup would return but only after Shoup could snap out of that nightmare of 2010.
So while a quality football program could not have all of its players take a summer off, every once in a while, there is a player who does need an escape.
“It cleared my mind a lot,” Shoup said of his summer. “I had focused all my thoughts on going 0-9. Cy said forget that season and move on to the next one.
This summer helped me cut loose of that season. I don’t think of 0-9 anymore. I’m thinking 3-0 in league.”
But to hear Shoup talk, while the league title would be fantastic, no matter what the record was this year, he eventually realized he belonged on the football field, with his friends, representing his school.
“I have absolutely no regrets at all,” Shoup said. “This was the best decision of my life, to play my senior year.”
Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/360paulv. And you can like him on Facebook.