Will Siegel and Asher White weren’t satisfied with how the 2022-2023 basketball season ended, even though the team advanced to the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs. Ever since, the senior and junior have been confident that the team has the players and talent to do better, so they devised a plan to kick-start training.
“For us, this season started last year as soon as we lost to Exeter,” says Asher. “We prepared all summer and fall to make a run this year in the WPIAL and state playoffs. We know what we need to do and what it is going to take, so everyone is on board and ready to go.”
The team traditionally plays in summer and fall leagues, but it was Asher and Will’s intent to train earlier, more intensely, and boost participation. That meant tough workouts beginning at 6 a.m., three days a week, and a fitness program that was not for the faint of heart.
“When the players know that we are getting up at 5 a.m. to get to a 6 a.m. training session, it sets a good example, especially for the younger players,” Will says. “I think they figured if we could do it, so could they.”
They began with runs that traversed local hills, followed immediately by open gyms, and then everyone went to the weight room to work out together. When school started, Coach Josh Randall took over, but Will and Asher remained integral to their continuing efforts, which changed to two days of open gyms each week and games on their days off. The turnout was solid and continued to improve as the weeks went by.
Alex Jones was one of the underclassmen who attended every summer session. He says the hardest part was the mental challenge and giving 100% while running and shooting.
“Preseason training was hard, and it was definitely a step up from other preseason workouts,” says the sophomore guard. “I have never pushed myself this much. I have always lifted weights and worked out in the past, but I believe this preseason I became a lot more disciplined and confident with my craft. We all have built a bond of trust that is one of a kind, and I don’t believe many teams have that.”
Asher adds, “We have a real shot to make some noise this year, so we are taking everything very seriously. We thought the more we work out and play together, the better our chemistry would become during the regular season.”
The players have high hopes this team can be as good as the 2021 squad that won the WPIAL Class 6A championship and advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament, but Will cautions about making comparisons.
“They were great in their own way, but this is a completely different team,” Will says. “Our team can be just as good as any team in the WPIAL when we are at our best. Our approach is just to use the weapons we have to be successful.”
Head coach Zach Skrinjar is pleased with the initiative that has been demonstrated.
“Will and Asher have shown great dedication and leadership to prepare for the season,” says the coach. “They have embraced what we look for as coaches in Fox Chapel Area basketball players both on and off the court. I’m extremely proud of them for gathering groups of our players together to work and prepare.”
Will adds, “Whenever this season ends, my basketball career is over, so I want to be able to say I did everything possible to help us win.”