Arlington Citizen-Journal

Colts ‘big men’ thrive in their own summer sport

Members of the Arlington lineman challenge team show off plaques and trophies they’ve won. The team is seeking its sixth state championship this summer.
Members of the Arlington lineman challenge team show off plaques and trophies they’ve won. The team is seeking its sixth state championship this summer. senglish@star-telegram.com

Quarterbacks and other skill position players showcase their skills in summer 7-on-7 passing leagues. But for offensive and defensive linemen like Arlington left tackle Nic Foster, there’s lineman challenge.

“It’s something for showcasing the big guys,” said Foster, who will be a senior in the fall.

Foster and his fellow Colts big men won their host lineman challenge competition May 28 against teams from Lamar, Kennedale and other north Texas area schools. Next up for Arlington will be trying to qualify for the state lineman challenge in Abilene later this month. The Colts have taken home the state trophy five times.

“We’re not taking it lightly,” said Arlington senior Caleb McKee, a defensive end/tight end. “We want to show teams in the Metroplex that we’re out to win.”

Scored like a track meet, lineman challenge competitions combine feats of raw power with tests of speed and agility. Events include bench press, medicine ball toss, sled pull, farmer’s walk, truck push and tire flip. Foster and senior defensive tackle Eric Dixon are particularly adept at farmer’s walk, an event that requires competitors to move fast while holding heavy weights.

“You pick it up and you have to walk around some obstacles with it,” Foster said. “You’re carrying that weight so it’s hard to breathe. So you definitely tense up.”

Arlington junior center Jacob Russ said the Colts linemen are used to carrying a heavy load. In season, the linemen do much of the dirty work that helps the football team win, but their efforts don’t always show up on the stat sheets.

“We don’t always get the credit in the games, but lineman challenge helps us get credit,” Russ said.

Colts offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Philip Nelson doesn’t overlook the big guys’ efforts. “We don’t get a lot of recognition and we’re OK with that,” Nelson said of the offensive linemen.

But they do get recognition this time of year. It comes in the form of dozens of lineman challenge trophies and plaques lining the shelves in the Arlington coaches’ office. Nelson’s not exactly sure how many his Arlington lineman challenge squads have accrued in a decade of participating in this off-season sport.

“We’ve been doing this for 10 years now,” Nelson said. “I’ve probably got 100 to 200 trophies over the years.”

Foster sees a tangible benefit to members of the Arlington offensive line and defensive line working side by side in competition. “At practice, D-line and O-line are always against each other,” Foster said. “So when we go and compete with each other, it definitely helps when we get to August.”

Entering June with two straight team victories in lineman challenge events has Foster thinking ahead to the fall just a bit. Beating other programs’ big guys in direct competition lends some credence to Foster’s optimistic outlook on the upcoming football season. Arlington reached the playoffs last season as the fourth seed out of District 4-6A.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we’ll have a chance this year,” Foster said.

U.S. Open tennis

The Arlington Tennis Center is set to host the U.S. Open Texas Sectional Qualifying Tournament June 20-25. Players 14 and up will compete for a berth in the mens or womens singles qualifying rounds, the mens or womens doubles main draw or mixed doubles main draw.

Schedule and additional information: www.usta.com

Adult volleyball

Registration is underway for adult volleyball leagues from the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department. Registration for softball ends May 31, with league play beginning June 12. The team fee is $220.

Information: www.naturallyfun.org

Summer sports camps

The Arlington YMCA will be hosting summer volleyball and soccer camps this summer. Volleyball (ages 7-16) will be June 13-16 and cost $19 for members, $75 for program members. Soccer (ages 5-14) will be Aug. 8-11 with the same fees.

Both camps will be held at the Cooper Street YMCA.

Information: www.ymca-arlington.org

The Arlington Parks and Recreation Department is hosting tennis and golf camps throughout the summer. Tennis is for ages 3-18 and is held at the Arlington Tennis Center, while golf is for ages 6-17 and is held at the Tierra Verde and Chester Ditto courses.

Information, fees and registration: www.naturallyfun.org

Stephen English: senglish@star-telegram.com, @sbenglish74

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