UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - - The buzz from the heater is the only noise filling Holuba Hall Saturday morning as 16 Women's Eagles hopefuls prepare to complete their required beep test fitness assessment for the Eagle's Training Center (ETC) camp at State College. Despite it being required for all eight ETC camps across the country, it is just the beginning of a long day for those attending their second session in Pennsylvania.
Players arrive well before the 8 a.m. start in order to utilize additional and much needed prep time. Despite only an eight-hour break, players must fight off the strains acquired from the four-hour session the night before in order to complete the beep test fitness assessment to the best of their abilities.
The group will see few breaks during the day, which is scheduled to take them all the way through to midnight. Various skills sessions will consume every moment of the day, with only small windows for lunch and dinner.
"Having to run the beep test for my college team on Thursday and then the 70-meter shuttle runs last night made it difficult to do it again this morning," said Meya Bizer, after completing the test. "Running the beep test wasn't ideal, but we conquered it."
After time is allotted for individuals to stretch and prepare, players line up for the shuttle style test and the beeps begin to sound. Despite having little chatter amongst the players prior to the test, a greater focus is palpable.
"The first beep of the test is always the worst cause you know you have a long way to go after that," Bizer emphasizes. "Everyone here came in focused and there is definitely a noticeable difference (from last night)."
As the seconds tick by, the thuds of feet become more prevalent as the beep test increases in pace. Players fight to make one last level before bowing out and gasping to regain their breath.
One by one, athletes are filtered out of the test and words of encouragement continue for the last remaining few.
"I got a whole level higher," notes Elena Cantorna of the players cheering each other on. "I like it because you have someone to push you and it feels like you aren't running by yourself."
Excitement and support for each other is noticeable, however, players still remain focused on the task at hand, which quickly transitions to general rugby skills following the very brief water break.
After the test, Holuba Hall peps up when the athletes start participating in a defensive drill, shouting to coordinate the wall that must launch and prevent the attacking side from going forward. "Load" and "up" echo off the walls of the indoor turf facility with every repetition performed.
Rounding out the morning with positional skills and a general play session, the focus is unwavering with a volume level that has doubled and fills every part of the facility.
State College ETC head coach Chris Amoratis signals the end to the crescendo by concluding the morning session.
A hush comes over the players, who now become focused on what must be accomplished during the hour-and-a-half break to follow.
As players shuffle out, the buzz from the heating unit once again returns as the only sound in Holuba Hall. Amoratis expects the Women's Eagles hopefuls to replicate the crescendo of noise later this evening, when they return for the final camp session.
Read more about the Women's ETCs.