When Cody Bull came back to Marshfield High School as head varsity football coach in the summer of 2017, he opened up the football team’s regular summer training program to sports outside of football, hoping to create a more coordinated effort among the school’s athletics programs.

“I had told everybody who could make it to come,” Bull recalled. “But it was mostly football guys, and we had a smattering of a few other people.”

The next summer, the training program, dubbed Edge, took on several other athletes, thanks to Bull’s presence in the weight room throughout the 2017-18 school year.

This year’s iteration of Edge got underway on Monday, June 3, and is seeing an unprecedented level of participation.

“This year all of the coaches have collaborated and they’ve all put it on their summer calendars, so everyone’s working together,” said Bull.

Thursday, June 6, saw attendance swell to a new record of 167 students ranging from the incoming freshman class to newly minted seniors. They arrived at 6 a.m. along with head coaches Bull, Roy Kaderly (track and field), Matt Holt (wrestling), Adam Carpenter (basketball), Katie Pritchard (basketball), and Will Pate (baseball) and a heap of assistant coaches from programs all across the school.

Coach Bull divided the mass of students into four groups by class and rotated them through the weight room and main gym for an assortment of timed and regimented drills. The order and efficiency of it was impressive, but the most compelling part of the morning came at the end, when Bull gathered all 167 students into the auxiliary gym.

Wrestling coach Matt Holt orchestrated a series of simultaneous grappling matches called “King of the Mat” to warm up the group, but the real capper was an extended drill in which six lines of students took turns running through a series of drops, push-ups, rolls and sprints timed to Bull’s whistle.

“That’s something we did when I was in Texas. It’s huge down there; about every high school does it,” said Bull, who spent the two years previous to his tenure at Marshfield coaching at Millsap High, just outside Dallas. “It’s physicality, there’s footwork involved, there’s a lot of reaction involved and it’s very hectic — it’s like being in an uncontrolled environment like a game.”

There was indeed a chaos of excitement as every athlete in attendance, in turn, dashed forward, threw themselves to the ground, rolled forward and juked either left or right on command. Bull noted that’s by design. “It’s one of those things where we can kind of simulate the chaos of a game and them having to react quickly as everything goes on around them,” he said.

As impressive as the whole program was to witness, Bull insisted it was only going to get better down the line. “It’s coming close to maturity, but we’re not quite there yet,” he said. “This is the first year of it being as big as it should be, but I think next year, with these juniors being seniors and having done it all four years, that’s where it becomes what it really is.”

That scope of vision extends to the youth programs, where coaches run a similar summer training event called “Beast Camp” that stretches back to third-grade students. Bull did some quick math and noted that in seven years, all of his seniors will have had a full stretch of the same training, and it will be second nature to them.

“When those kids are the only group in, when they’ve grown up not knowing anything else, it really takes the load off all of us,” he said. “And that’s really the idea, the maturity of this thing, is that the kids are able to take over the lead. Coaches should lay out the plan for everything and be able to redirect, but the kids need to lead once things start going.”

As for the current attendees of Edge, Bull is pleased with how well they’ve laid the groundwork for that future success.

“I’m just really proud of our kids and our coaches for all just really embracing being together,” he said. “It’s about them; it’s about the kids taking this thing on and going and making the most out of what we can do in high school sports.”

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