Weight room experiences help Jackson County high school athletes in various ways
While high school athletes get pulled in several different directions through the summer, one place they are all likely to congregate is in the weight room.
That has been the case for the Holton, Jackson Heights and Royal Valley athletes since late May and the weight rooms have remained full and busy up until these waning days of the summer.
It is an important program for athletes to be a part of, according to the three football coaches that run the high school weight rooms in Jackson County, and for RVHS football coach Jacob Lott, it’s also important in helping him build on the foundation he started laying down when he took his position at Royal Valley last summer.
“We just kind of kept with what we’ve been doing, help complete our program and reinforce what we did during the school year and what we started in the summer last year,” Lott said. “It really is a development process that I’m in with them from the ground floor, to see them reach their goals.”
Helping with that, the summer weights program at Royal Valley has grown a little bit from last summer, with an average of 50 to 60 kids attending per day this summer. A lot of that growth, Lott said, has come from increased attendance out of the middle school athletes.
The Panthers have been going strong since the start of June, working four days per week, and just recently wrapped up their summer weights sessions. While Lott noted he didn’t change much about the program, he did say there was a focus to try and address some of the weaknesses of the athletes over June and July.
“I try to emphasize exercises that attack a lot of our weaknesses while still getting an overall athletic workout in, so we really emphasized the legs and quick movement exercises,” Lott said.
While Lott noted the Panthers had a good group of seniors setting the tone in the weight room, he noted he is always looking for more. He said he wants the athletes to push harder and achieve more each time out and that’s part of why he tries to get as many athletes as possible in the weight room over the offseason.
“No matter what sport you play or where you are in your career right now, there’s nothing wrong with being stronger, faster and more athletic,” Lott said.
For the Cobras, that principle especially applies with the lack of numbers in the weight room and, potentially, on the field this fall.
Currently, JHHS football coach Caleb Wick has seen roughly between 20 to 25 kids per day, which is a little lower than what Jackson Heights had last year.
Given that and a potential drop in roster size, the focal points for the Cobras’ weight room were pretty apparent.
“We’re not going to have very many kids, so we have to be in great shape, so conditioning has been a key factor,” Wick said.
Flexibility has been another focus related to that because of all the injuries JHHS had to deal with last season. Building up that flexibility helps give the athletes a sturdy base to improve upon and help those injured athletes make some headway in the summer.
While the Cobra athletes we’re also working out four days per week earlier in the summer, Wick made some changes in the weight room after his team’s football camp.
After talking with some colleagues, Wick shifted to a three-day workout program focused around the three main lifts (squat, clean and bench), due to the results it has yielded for those colleagues’ programs.
It has taken some time, but Wick says the Cobra athletes are starting to buy into the change and get back to the level of production they were at earlier in the summer, which is something the coach said he will continue to harp on until right before the start of school.
Given the results for other schools (Olpe, Silver Lake, Holton, etc.), Wick believes the benefits of the summer weights program should be pretty evident to his players and even more so after seeing the results from the past couple of years.
“There’s a distinct correlation between being strong, being athletic and then being successful in sports. That’s the big selling point to our kids right now,” Wick said.
That is starting to sink in, though, and affect the work in the weight room over the summer and the coach said he is excited to see what the results will yield on the field this fall.
Holton has seen some pretty good results come out of the work the Wildcat athletes have put in during the summer in recent seasons and HHS football coach Brooks Barta has certainly had a hand in that, but he noted the athletes’ attitudes have also helped them get the most out of the experience.
“I don’t think we could have a more positive environment because everybody who’s there wants to be there,” Barta said.
There is a certain necessity to it as well, though, as Barta echoed some of Wick’s sentiments on the less noticeable advantages.
“If they want to perform and perform well, they have to do that. If they want to stay healthy, it’s a big part of staying healthy,” Barta said.
While Holton got some new back equipment in to diversify its workouts and balance between the pushes and the pulls, Barta noted his routine stays the same through most of the summer and it draws a crowd.
Vacations can take a chunk out of attendance, but Holton has averaged roughly 70 athletes per day in the weight room, with sessions four days per week through this coming Friday.
Over the course of the summer, Barta said he can get an idea of who has been making the most of their time and how that will translate to the field in the fall, with the Wildcats sticking to a tried and true formula.
“There are always little quirks and little changes, but we’re really striving for a range of motion. That’s become a new thing and something we’ve always, I think, been pretty good at is working our range of motion, flexibility, strength and power, which produces speed,” Barta said.
The coach noted he is always excited to see the growth of the athletes over a five or six year period and this summer has been no different, as he noted he is happy with the results he’s seen.
All three coaches will see how that plays out this fall when practices start up for the high school season on Monday, Aug. 17.