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Nunley Nights head indoors
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Malachi Rippy, left, battles Hunter Burch during workouts Wednesday. Coach Matt Turner had his team hit the mat, with players taking part in battles for towels and sumo wrestling.

Rain or shine, Nunley Nights will not be stopped.

Matt Turner moved his summer workout routine into the WCHS indoor facility Wednesday night, drawing nearly 60 players as the Pioneers look to turn the corner as a program. There weren’t hills to run or trucks to push, but Turner made sure it wasn’t an easy night for his guys.

“We pushed the tempo and made it chaotic,” said Turner. Nunley Stadium offers the steps, the hills and the track – characteristics we can’t duplicate. We still had a good workout. They responded well.” 

The close confines became a breeding ground for competition, especially on Turner’s second home – the wrestling mat. The WCHS wrestling coach had his players battling over towels and sumo wrestling in the circle to see who would compete. 

Having a winner in every rep is something Turner has promoted since taking the job.

“To be a winner, you have to compete. I want them to start doing that now in everything they do – in the classroom, on the football field, at their jobs,” said Turner. “We’re challenging them to do the best they can.”

Players especially flocked to the harness pull – a 1-on-1, tug-of-war style workout where each player ran in different directions trying to pull their competitor past the middle line.

 It was part of the hour-long circuit workout, then became the focal point at the end when the team circled together and began issuing challenges.

Turner used it as a time to promote his mantra, “Burn the ship,” a callback to Herman Cortez landing in Mexico and setting fire to his own boats to motivate his crew to press on instead of sailing back to his mainland. 

“We can’t waste the next opportunity worrying about the last opportunity. That’s football – one play you may win, the next you may not,” said Turner. “You have to burn the ship, step up to the line and compete again.”

Just like last week, the Pioneers flipped tires, carried water-filled PVC pipes and pushed sleds. This week added some new wrinkles, like an obstacle course of boxes and ropes players had to fly in and out of to build quickness. The Pioneers also threw medicine balls, which had to be tossed to a mark 10 feet in the air while a teammate held a 100-pound weight.

Promoting teamwork has been just as important to Turner as building competition.

“The camaraderie is coming along well. I’m seeing the evolution of this group,” said Turner.

Nunley Nights will continue next week, with hopes of returning back to Nunley Stadium. Turner is also finalizing plans for a final workout at the end of June.

The “Dawn of the Dead” event will be held Friday, June 21. The aptly named workout will occur a day prior to the TSSAA mandated summer dead period which begins June 23.