High School Sports

HHH boxing club provides outlet to students

Stressed? Hit something.

Or so suggests a sign on a door inside the Hilton Head High weight room.

As succinct as the advice may be, it isn't exactly sound -- well, at least not until you open the door.

The music roars through the room. Six heavy punching bags take up most of the space. Four speed bags line the outside walls.

And five young men take turns shadowboxing between sets of push-ups, sit-ups and jump rope.

Welcome to the Seahawk Boxing Club.

In its third year at the high school, the club can provide an outlet for aggression for students who quickly learn boxing takes a whole lot more than brawn, muscles and anger.

"It doesn't matter how hard you can hit someone or how fast you can hit someone if you can't hit them at all," says Jesse Milby, senior captain of the club.

Of course, the idea behind the club isn't intended to teach fighting, insists its coach, Garret Talarczyk, who also coaches the high school volleyball team. In fact, students learn on the first day that an actual fight will get them kicked off the team.

The club isn't allowed to spar or actually box -- per district orders, Talarczyk says -- and it doesn't participate in competitions, either, so it focuses primarily on technique.

"I don't know if anyone here plans on having a career in boxing anyway," Talarczyk said. "I don't think they'd like to get hit in the head."

Here, that isn't part of the agreement.

The club meets twice per week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for one-hour sessions, which average about five to 10 participants. Numbers often increase in the winter, as athletes have found it a good way to stay in shape for spring sports.

With a background in physical training, Milby runs some of the drills. He has added a bevy of cardio workouts to the practices, intermingled between the athletes taping up their hands, tying on their gloves and pounding punch after punch into the bags.

The methods aren't what you might picture, and they certainly are not as easy as they look -- kind of like golf, Milby points out. They use steady punches of a repetitious nature rather than throwing any sort of haymakers. After all, that's the only way to keep the speed bags moving.

"You get a lot of kids that come out here and throw fast and hard punches, and they just get really sloppy," Talarczyk said. "You look at them like, 'Wow, you're going to get knocked out.' So you try to slow them down and teach footwork and then throwing a couple of punches."

Talarczyk boxed for about three years before starting the high school club, he said. He uses procedures he was taught at the gym but says he also watches YouTube videos to learn new techniques.

The sport requires quickness and reaction, but it also demands an athlete is in proper shape. Some who attend the Seahawk Boxing Club for the first time can't handle either -- and that's just fine with the club's members, who welcome anyone willing to show up. The club included girls during the winter sports season.

"Sometimes it's about stress. Sometimes it's about working out. Sometimes it's about getting the chance to hit something," Milby said. "People have their reasons for coming. We don't ask questions."