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Athletic Department introduces Strength and Conditioning Program

Heather Song/The Campanile
Junior Ramses Luna lifts a bar off the rack. “By having strength in power, mobility and flexibility, it will enable (student athletes) to decrease injuries and to have a competitive edge,” Butler said.

To provide athletic teams with a competitive advantage, the Physical Education department introduced a Strength and Conditioning program on Jan. 29 that runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after school.

Because of this new program, the weight room will go from being open four days per week to only being open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Athletic Director Jennifer Crane said training will be tailored to the specific needs of each sport, and coaches will be required to request time slots based on their desired schedule.

Assistant Principal LaDonna Butler who oversees the PE department said the athletic department has been allocated a stipend they used for the Athletic Weight Room Manager. This money will now support implementation of the Strength and Conditioning program.

“This year, we were able to find an individual who can come after school and support our athletic programs,” Butler said. “By having strength in power, mobility and flexibility, it will enable (student athletes) to decrease injuries and have a competitive edge with a lot of the surrounding schools who have a strength and conditioning coach.”

The newly hired Strength and Conditioning Coach, Anthony Thomas, has extensive experience with personal training and success as Strength and Conditioning Coach at Leigh High School .

“(Thomas has) worked with different colleges, and he’s worked with professional sports,” Butler said. “He is actually coming to us from another team in which he helped to build their program. Their football team actually did a lot better in this season after he was a part of the team. We’re looking for that to happen with not just football but with all of our teams.”

Crane said the Strength and Conditioning program will incorporate specially designed training, helping teams gain the necessary skills to succeed and work on specialized movements.

“The coach will work closely with our teams to design comprehensive training regimens that align with the demands of their respective sports,” she said.

But, junior Vincent Wong said he is concerned the limited weight room hours that come with the program will limit his access to a convenient gym, disrupting his daily routine.

“I was very surprised and annoyed when I found out about the gym schedule change,” Wong said. “To me, the weight room is a place of escape from the pressures of school. I believe partially losing this outlet will be a major hit on my mental health. I also think if I don’t do any physical activity, I get restless and it makes it hard to concentrate on studying.”

And based on his experience on the water polo team, Wong said excessive strength and conditioning can be detrimental to an athlete’s performance.

“Depending on the sport, strength and conditioning can be pretty useful, but it can be more important to just be well rested and not sore for the game,” Wong said. “In water polo we had two games a week and practice in between. During those times I almost never lifted because if I did I knew I would perform way worse in the games.”

Wong also said the program needs to be revised, mainly through altering the current schedule.

“Most strength and conditioning programs are not lifting for a whole hour straight because if they did they would be too sore for their games,” Wong said. “The gym was (previously) open two hours after school, so what if they gave the first hour to all Paly students and the second to the sports teams?”

Butler said she understands these concerns but it needs to go back to the intended purpose.

“I’m glad that we were able to offer the weight room to the general population until we were able to get the strength and conditioning component up and running,” Butler said. “We’re steering our resources and our stipend toward what it was originally created for, which is the athletics program,” Butler said.

Looking ahead, Butler said she hopes the Strength and Conditioning program will attract students who decide to attend private schools because of their abundant athletic resources. Butler also said the success will stem from athletes’ abilities to get a morale boost by advancing their performance during the season.

“The program lends itself to a bit more confidence,” Butler said. “You have a different attitude. You feel strong and ready for the season.”

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