By Sue Botos
The Force may soon be with Rocky River High School.
Athletics Director Mark Wagner presented a proposal to the school board at its April committee of the whole session that calls for the district to enter into a contract with Force Sports for a year-round conditioning program for student-athletes. The agreement would also allow Force employees to staff the high school weight room.
Along with other area coaches, Wagner said he visited the weight rooms at Avon High School, Baldwin Wallace University and other nearby school athletics facilities. “The thing we got out of it was the idea that most (60 percent) of high school training should be the same,” he said, referring to the fact that much of the exercise, physiology and nutrition information for student-athletes applies to multiple sports. “With so many multisport athletes, how we train and keep them safe and away from (muscle) overuse is important,” he told the board.
Although an $80,000 face-lift for the weight room was included in a three-year high school renovation, Wagner pointed out that as part of the district’s belt tightening plan, the strength coach position was cut. He said that the arrangement with Force Sports, a training facility with locations in Rocky River and Westlake, would cost $20,000 annually, less that the $26,000 salary for the former employee.
A program outline is currently being put together by Force’s director of performance, Kris Lewandoski, according to Wagner, which will cover both in- and out-of-season conditioning. “Coaches will know the athletes will be getting the appropriate training,” he stated.
Wagner said the proposal includes a launch seminar for coaches, parents and athletes, a monthly in-service for personnel and a biannual seminar covering topics such as overuse of muscles and nutrition.
The daily in-season workout would last 75 to 85 minutes, according to Wagner, and would be overseen by Force staff members in the school weight room. He said that the district receives about 10 to 15 resumes yearly from college students seeking work in the weight room, but he said Force employees would be properly trained to oversee high school students.
Wagner added that the programs would be tailored to the athletes’ specific needs. During the summer, Wagner said, specialized off-season regimens would be put in place. He said all student-athletes would be expected to participate unless they had their own personal trainer; however, off-season work would not be mandatory. “In season it will be part of their planning for the week to fit their workouts in,” he noted.
School board members were generally supportive of the plan. “I can’t say enough about it,” stated Kathy Goepfert, adding that appropriate weight training was necessary to avoid injury.
“We want to get expert guidance on what’s best for the kids,” Wagner commented.
Superintendent Michael Shoaf said the administration and board will begin to “hammer out” proposed contracts. He added that there is always the option of discontinuing the agreements if they do not work out.