Student-athletes for Sam Houston's football, volleyball and soccer teams don't report for preseason practice for the 2011 fall season until early August.

But each morning, as the sun rises over Elliott T. Bowers Stadium, many of the members of those teams can be seen running sprints on the turf as they work to become bigger, stronger and faster.

"The athletes work five days a week, Monday through Friday," Sam Houston strength and conditioning coach Kyle Speer said. "Our first group starts at 5:30 in the morning and our last group finished at 7 in the evening. The workouts are voluntary. It's an opportunity to gather with their teammates to better themselves."

The summer workouts began on June 1 and will continue through August 2.

"We've had a great summer so far," Speer said. "At the halfway point, many of our players already have achieved new personal records. We've got a great group this summer with athletes not just from football but from the other fall sports as well. These young men and women are very committed. They run and lift four days a week. On Wednesdays, their typical off day, we have added player organized seven-on-seven and lineman drills."

Kash David, a senior linebacker from Georgetown for the Bearkat football team, is typical of the student-athletes participating in the summer program.

"These workouts are a great opportunity for us, not only for helping us get bigger, faster and stronger and in top condition for the fall season but for coming together as a team," David said. "The summer workouts are voluntary and everyone is excited about being out here. We help encourage one another. I'm taking six hours of summer school. Almost everyone here is either taking some classes or has a summer job. We get to talk and hang out. When we're done with lifting, we normally go eat together."

Sam Houston head football coach believes the team spirit set in workouts in June and July set a foundation for success in the fall.

"The summer work goes a long way towards setting the tone for the rest of the season," Fritz said. "It's team oriented and it builds pride. Without the football coaches around, the athletes push each other. The players develop leadership and have a great team-building experience."

David, who started in nine games in 2010, sees another positive in the summer program.

"What's really great this summer is that we have several of our high school signees working with us," the linebacker said. "I came here for summer drills as a freshman and it made a big difference. The transition from high school to college is a big one. This gives the newcomers a great opportunity to see what it's like and make the step up easier."

The summer program includes both male and female athletes.

Kellie Stewart, sophomore outside hitter from Magnolia, is one of the members of the Bearkat volleyball team who is working alongside her teammates.

"We've got a lot of the volleyball players here working together," Stewart said.  "It's great. With the heat, it's tough, but it's going to help us become a better team in the long run. We'll see the results in August when we start the season."

Sam Houston's strength and conditioning program has been honored nationally by American Football Magazine. The student-athletes lift each day under the strength and conditioning staff's guidance at the modern Ron Randleman Strength and Fitness Center which opened in 2006.