Less than three decades age, most athletes used the off-season as a time for taking a break from their sport with relaxing activities like golf and fishing. Things have changed.
Today’s athletes are finding the importance of strength and conditioning during the off-seasons, and professional athletes are by no means the only people aware of its benefits. Theses days most successful college and high school athletes also use the time to prepare for through strength an conditioning programs. High school athletes on North Coast are fortunate to have a training program in Humboldt State University’s weight room conducted by Drew Petersen, who is responsible for the year-round strength and conditioning program for all Lumberjack athletes.
The program is called Lumberjack Iron ’99 and it takes place from May 24- August 20. Lumberjack Iron is put on by Peterson and Holly Shumard, the newest strength and conditioning professional on the HSU staff, and it is for high school athletes who want to prepare for the coming athletic year with exclusive, individualized training in the areas of plyometrics, speed development, strength development, power development , power development, agility, Olympic lifting and flexibility, "We set the athletes on a base program to get then flexible," Petersen said. "The program gets more advanced later and becomes more specific to suit the athlete’s needs. We try to show then the difference between training for athletes and what we call ’beauty lifts.’ We basically train the kids as athletes, not as body builders.
Rather than isolating muscles, we try to get every muscle and joint involved in action. According to Petersen, the program is designed to help athletes develop explosive power. This explosive power is best demonstrated when a baseball or softball player blasts a home run, when a running back breaks a tackle or when a volleyball player slams a spike. "We want the athlete to use what we help them develop in the weight room and transfer it on to the playing field," Petersen said. "Year-round preparation is extremely important for high school athletes as well." "this program has helped me a lot." said Marc Manfredda a senior football star at St. Bernard who is being recruited my many colleges. "It’s helped with my speed a lot. Drew has taken the time to help become a better lifter and that has helped me become a better player on the football field." John Craig, a 150-year-old-junior at St. Bernard High School who plays football and golf, has taken part in Petersen’s program for two summers and he hopes to use the training to make him a better player next season during his first year as a varsity athlete. "I’m seeing improvement," said Craig during Wednesday’s session. "All my lifts are going up. Drew is really helpful. I came unto this program thinking he (Petersen) was pretty big-time and that he’d be strict. But, he’s cool and pretty laid back."
The common perception with strength and conditioning is that it’s mostly dome by male athletes, but according to Petersen, this is not true at all. "We have just as many girls throwing up weights as guys," Petersen said. "the stereotype of only guys in the weigh room is breaking down. In fact, in the past our program has been made up mostly of girls. In Wednesday’s session there was an equal amount of girls as boys. Ashley Vrieze is what Petersen called his star pupil. Vrieze, who has participated in Lumberjack Iron ’99 for two summers, is a sophomore swimmer from Arcata High. She comes in five days a week for two hours a day before spending two additional hours training in the pool. "I try to stay focused and dedicated to what I feel is important," Vrieze said. "I think it’ll help in the long run. "Vriez’s goal is to earn a college swimming scholarship and her dream is to eventually make it to the Olympics. Another athlete at the program was first-year participant Lisa Yancheff, a sophomore volleyball, softball and basketball player at St. Bernard. "I heard about this from a friend and I heard it was really good," Yancheff said. "I’m still in the first phase called the Hammer Strength Circuit, but toward the end of summer I’ll concentrate more on lifts for my specific sports."