(by Don Meador, The Citizen-Times, September 13, 2018, Used with permission)
Last school year, a partnership between the
Allen County School District and Med Center Health brought an on-site health
care clinic to the school district. This year, a new component of the
partnership has led to the establishment of a comprehensive strength and
conditioning program---a program designed to help better prepare Allen
County-Scottsville student-athletes for the rigors of competition and thus
perhaps avoid injuries.
The new strength and conditioning program has been launched under the guidance of Kevin Winn, the sports outreach coordinator for Med Center Health. As part of the partnership, Winn will lead the program for Patriot and Lady Patriots.
“We are on site nine hours a week,” Winn explained “Eventually we will be working with all the varsity sports teams that wont to participate. Currently, we are training the football team, boys and girls basketball, baseball, and softball. When off-season become in-season, we will add the other programs.”
For eight years, AC-S has contracted for athletic training services, most recently through Med Center Health. The agreement ensured that a certified athletic trainer was at practices three days a week, and on the sidelines during games if someone was injured or required taping or training services.
“The trainer would evaluate an injury and offer treatment when needed,” Winn said. “The trainer also assisted in the rehab process after someone gets hurt. We have been keeping athletes healthy and treating them so now we want to enhance their performance.”
To reach that goal, Winn is introducing a comprehensive strength and conditioning program to the high school athletes. The depth of the program is somewhat new to AC-S and goes in line with a growing trend across the nation.
“As a whole, strength and conditioning started coming into professional teams 30-40 years ago” Winn said. “It then trickled its way down to college and in the last 5-10 years, there’s been a push at the high school level. Strength and conditioning has been around for a while but its new at the high school level.”
Winn explains that a school contracting with a strength and conditioning coach who specializes in the field frees up the athletic staff to concentrate on the “x’s” and “o’s” of coaching.
“What we find is that coaches want to focus on football or basketball or whatever they coach,” Winn noted. “Coaches want to find someone that is an expert in the (strength and conditioning) field to come in because a lot of coaches don’t feel comfortable with strength and conditioning. Other coaches do have experience but may not have the time to commit to it.”
The partnership with Med Center Health brings to AC-SH a strength and conditioning coach who is a former professional athlete who has a comprehensive background in the field. Winn attended Louisiana Tech University where he was a four-year player on the baseball team. Following college, Winn was drafted by the San Diego Padres organization and played minor baseball. While in college, Winn earned his degree in kinesiology and exercise science. He has also coached baseball.
“I got a really good experience from being in a collegiate weight room working with coaches,” Winn said. “In my degree program at Louisiana Tech, my assistant coach was also the strength and conditioning coach and also taught my kinesiology classes. He was also a mentor and role model. Today, he the vice-president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He lit a fire in me to take what I learned there and show that to other athletes and make a positive impact.”
Winn recently started working with the Patriot and Lady Patriot athletes. The coach admits that it has been somewhat of an adjustment for the student athletes.
“The football players were probably a little more experienced with conditioning because coach Hood and his assistants have had a good program for a long time,” Winn noted. “I don’t know if it has been s big of transition for football as for the others.”
Winn has been spending an hour with each program two to three times a week. The student-athletes are seeing Winn’s passion and drive in each session.
“I’m pretty structured.” Winn admitted. “Everything is on time, down to the minute. We make sure they are doing something; we don’t waste any time. Every minute and every second counts and that’s has been a transition for some of the athletes. At times it can be demanding but I look at this as being an extension of the field and the court. I know that their coaches are demanding and want them to do something right. That’s the way it is in here. We don’t want to waste time but make them better. We are here to push each other and make each other better. We want them to be better on the field as a result of what we are doing in here.”
Winn adds that he will also have a second focus as he spends time with the athletes in the weight room.
“In reality, most of the athletes will not play in college,” Winn explained. “A big part of what I will try to do is to foster accountability for kids. They may see that as demanding. I do believe that you do have to train them to hold each other accountable. I will try to instill in them leadership qualities through this. I have been fortunate to play sports at a pretty high level and looking back, a lot of the stuff I remember about my teammates has nothing to do with what happened with the game on the line. What I do remember who they were, what their work ethic was, and how they treated their teammates. So, if I can teach that through the weight room while getting a little better in the process, I think that’s the most important. I think that will make them better on the field and as a team but ultimately it will make them better human beings and that is my goal.”
It is the hope for Winn that the strength and conditioning program will be in place for years to come---a program that teaches life lessons.
“I hope that when the kids graduate down the road they can look back and say, ‘I’m a better person because of what I learned in the weight room,” Winn explained. “When things got hard, they can say I learned perseverance and how to overcome adversity. If we can do that, it would be the biggest success of the program.”
To parents of the student-athlete who may desire for their child to get stronger and be tempted to look for additional ways to reach their goals, Winn points out that it’s important to keep in mind the age level of their child.
“These are not adult athletes,” Winn said. “With the internet, you can find a lot of great strength programs but a lot of those programs are designed for the adult athlete. Parents need to remember that for an adolescent athlete, their body changes so much, every day. You can’t treat them like adults. Sometimes, I may go a little slower than what people may expect as far as a weight load but that’s because the players are still growing. If you get them in here and try to treat them like adults or even collegiate athletes, you can set them up for injury. But, I think if you approach it right, you prevent injuries and this is a great tool for them.”
AC-S will still have trainer Andy Vickery on the sidelines to treat injures should they occur. Winn and Vickery will also work together---another benefit of the partnership. In addition, several of AC-S athletes who have sustained injuries are treated by physicians with the Medical Center. Thus, a “team” concept is established which can allow for better communication between the individuals should an injury occur and treatment and rehab become necessary.