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Offseason weight training program helps keep BHS athletes active

Year-round training for high school athletes has become the rule rather than the exception and the athletes at Bemidji High School have been eager to join that movement.

"We live in a day and age that doesn't allow the kids to have a summer," said Bryan Stoffel who is coordinating the Lumberjack Summer Strength and Conditioning Program.

"If athletes want to keep up with the competition they have to participate in this type of program."

Judging by the number of students who joined the program, the Bemidji athletes are not taking a back seat to their competition.

"Last year we had 170 kids in the summer program but this year we have 250 and they represent every sport at the school," Stoffel said. "The goal is to have 350 kids enrolled and if the trend continues we should be able to reach that goal very soon."

This year's program began on June 7 and will continue through Aug. 13. The athletes have committed to four days a week (Monday through Thursday) and the daily sessions begin on the hour from 7 a.m. through 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. through 4 p.m.

Instead of concentrating solely on gaining strength, this program also centers on quickness and agility.

"For the strength portion we concentrate on heavy resistance based on a percentage of an athlete's maximum potential," said J.T. Mathy who is a staff and conditioning instructor along with Kyle McMartin.

"But there also is the dynamic portion of the program which is geared toward maximal effort with quick (ballistic) repetitions.

"Our program is geared toward the full athletic experience which emphasizes strength and speed. And research has shown that including ballistic exercises into the program will translate into better overall conditioning," Mathy added.

"Each athlete has an individually designed program that changes as progress is made," Mathy said. "We want to push the kids to the edge but not over the edge."

Strength is an important weapon in the arsenal of every athlete but equally vital are speed and agility.

"Before, all these programs were geared toward 'heavy' strength but our program concentrates on 'explosive' strength that helps when quick action is needed," Stoffel said. "We are training bodies to move from 'Point A' to 'Point B' as quickly as possible with as much power and strength as possible."

Stoffel and his instructors have noticed how much the athletes have improved in their total conditioning and that improvement will translate into success on the field, in the gym, in the pool, on the track and on the ice.

"The kids who commit to this program will see the results in the sports they play," Stoffel said. "I'm extremely excited to see the progression we have made in the last two years of weight training. And those benefits will be on display during the upcoming sports seasons."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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