Kitty Mannion

[I’m Kathleen Mannion but I go by Kitty. I am in 3 varsity sports, soccer, swim, and track & field. I go to Lynn Classical High School. My sophomore year I helped my team make playoffs for the first time in years. My swim and track team won the all city tournament we have in Lynn. I won the Ram Award for soccer my sophomore year. I am ranked #1 in the class of 2021. On Sundays I’m a Catechist (Sunday school teacher) for 4th grade students. I play club soccer throughout the year. I have a sister Molly who plays soccer, basketball, and track at Classical, a brother Patrick who plays basketball and baseball at Essex Tech, and a brother Rory who is in elementary school.]

GTD: Kitty, how many summers have you trained in Coach Braz’s summer program? What got you started?
Kitty: I have done this program for 2 summers now. My freshman year I was a swing for soccer and one of the things I needed to improve on was my fitness. My sister and her friends had done this camp the year before and had amazing results, so I did it as well.

GTD: Did the first summer make a difference?
Kitty: The first summer completely changed me as an athlete. I went from finishing 3rd to last in the 2 mile at tryouts my freshman year to finishing 4th. Not only had I built up endurance, but my speed improved as well. After my first summer I became a starter as a sophomore and that was in large part due to this program.

GTD: You're a soccer player. The GTD program is a conditioning program. Do you do anything soccer-specific in the summer?
Kitty: I play club soccer and practice with them early on, I also play in the District Select Program up in Lancaster, and played in the Bay State Games.

GTD: While it isn’t a “running program” there’s a lot of quick movement, both on the track and the turf field, with “obstacles” (rope ladders, cones, hurdles). Tell us about these drills. Are there ones you like better than others?
Kitty: There are a lot of drills we did at camp. Most of them worked on explosive speed and quick movements, but we did them continuously which helped with endurance. In the drills with quick movement the coaches would make sure to show us how to do them properly for injury prevention. The drills would vary each day and got harder as the program went on. Personally, I love ladders because it helps with quick feet for soccer.

GTD: In addition to the speed and agility we work on, you have 90 minutes of mostly steady “work” with some short water breaks. How does this prepare you to play soccer?
Kitty: The short breaks help me get accustomed to how the season is. During soccer I don’t get subbed out much which means less breaks, so it makes the transition into soccer easier. It also has helped me stay hydrated, knowing that I won’t get water all the time.

GTD: It’s a progressive program over the 6 weeks of onsite sessions. It gets more challenging with each week. How does this work for you?
Kitty: The program gradually getting harder helps me stay focused. Each week of the program you get better, and the difficulty increasing each week helps you be better than the last. The first day is always the worst, but if you did the last day of camp at the level you were the first day of camp, it’d be so much worse. When I’m working, I always feel the need to be challenged, and if I’m not challenged I won’t want work. This program always keeps me challenged.

Kitty (far left) with her teammates on last day of the summer program.

GTD: The last phase of each training session is often devoted to core work, flexibility, and strength. Tell us about it. What did you like and didn’t like.
Kitty: I’ve never been good at core, it’s my weak point. Having a dedicated time of day 3 times a week really did push me to work on it. It’s my least favorite part of each day, but I know for me it’s the most important. Having a strong core helps with balance, which helps me because I fall a lot.

GTD: How do you handle nutrition on Braz camp mornings? It's the heat of summer, you're starting at 9am and you have 90 intense minutes of work.
Kitty: I don’t like eating right before a workout, but if I didn’t eat before camp I’d probably pass out. Usually when I wake up I’ll have either an apple with plain toast or a Belvita breakfast bar. It’s enough to put me through camp.

GTD: What’s ahead for the fall season? Do you do a sport in the winter and spring?
Kitty: Coming up is my favorite season, soccer. We’ve been moved into another part of the NEC where we’ll face harder teams. In the winter I do swim and in the spring I do track and field.

Kitty recruited her teammates to join her for the 2019 GTD summer program. From the left -- Eliza Correnti, Katie Dunn (goes to Fenwick, from Lynn), Kenzie Mclaren, Ava Correnti, Kitty Mannion, Mary Collins, Jess Page

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