Many athletes relish the off-season for the chance to relax and not concern themselves with the rigors of conditioning.
But Ashton Peeks, a junior-to-be soccer player at Lake Ridge, isn’t most athletes.
Along with many of those playing summer league select team players, Peeks said the summer season is her time to focus on conditioning.
“In the summer, I work on conditioning and getting ready for the (high school) season,” she said. “I work mostly on skills during the practices and scrimmages, depending on what the coaches are looking at, such as positions, sets or other players.”
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Her strategy seems to be working.
In just her sophomore season, Peeks led the Lady Eagles in the varsity season with 20 goals. That scoring total put her in the top 20 of all area players, in both Class 5A and 4A.
Her performance was one of the reasons Lake Ridge finished second behind district champ Burleson Centennial and then went three rounds deep into the playoffs.
Peeks said she has scored more than the 20 goals in her select team season, but the 20 goals was the most yet in her young varsity career. She has been playing in select league soccer since she was in the U10-11 division and started playing soccer at age 4.
“She’s fun to watch,” said Lake Ridge head coach Kim Wallace, noting Peeks is a standout in the classroom, as well. “She wants not only to win, but to have others on the team to win, too. She’s exceptional.”
Although the conditioning work is a key focus for Peeks, she said the skills work is also paramount for her development.
“I like learning new skills but also focus on normal skills such as touches, juggling and passing,” Peeks said.
The ability to score using either foot has been a result of the summer work.
“Shooting and finishing is something else I work on, and using both feet to be better,” she said. “I’ve come a long way with my left. I worked on my left foot last summer and the one before that.”
As of last week, Peeks was still uncommitted to a team for this summer season, as the tryouts will not be held until July, she said, with the season kicking off in August.
Soccer, she noted, plays in the weather’s extremes, starting with the blazing August heat and into the bitter, wind-slapped winter temps toward the end of the varsity season. “We normally are either bundled up to our necks or pouring water on us,” she laughed. “It’s very much a year-round sport. You gotta love the sport and you’re going to play it.”
The summer also allows for Peeks to spend time in the weight room.
“I like to work on the upper-body strength, too,” Peeks said. “I like the strength for aggressive play and pushing people off the ball. It also helps for holding your ground when you have the ball and throw-ins, too.”
With continued improvement, Peeks and her Lake Ridge teammates should be a force to contend with this next season, regardless of their bump up to the new district in 5A.
Lake Ridge showed a strong contingent of freshmen last season and didn’t lose any to graduation.