Sports

Oak Harbor, Coupeville athletes hit the weight room

Oak Harbor
Oak Harbor's Nate Stanford pushes a prowler sled during summer workouts.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

Many high school athletes use the off season to develop their skills by playing on non-school affiliated teams.

Baseball players take part in Legion, soccer athletes join select teams and volleyball players compete at the club level.

But not all off-season growth comes by playing games. It is not uncommon to find athletes hitting the weight room to build strength, speed and stamina.

Both Oak Harbor and Coupeville open their weight rooms throughout the year for students to work out, and both offer special programs during the summer months.

At Oak Harbor High School, primary weight room advisors Jon Adkins and Peter Esvelt developed a program that they think is the best fit for the majority of their athletes.

At Coupeville High School, the program SpeedStrengthTraining (SST) is the focal point, according to weight room supervisor Dustin VanVelkinburgh.

Esvelt said Oak Harbor  previously used the nationally known Bigger Faster Stronger program but found that it wasn’t universal enough.

He said, “It wasn’t ideal for the 150-pound guard trying to pack on the pounds.”

Esvelt said the program he developed with Adkins emphasizes many body-weight lifts, adding Adkins is “big on power lifts” from his time working at Washington State University.

“No program fits all kids,” Esvelt said, “but so far we have been really happy on how this has worked out.”

“This program takes effort,” he said. “It is hard work.”

The program appears to meet the needs of all athletes, with the possible exception of cross country runners, he said.

The OHHS weight room is open to all students and they are not required to follow the program. Football head coach Jay Turner, however, expects his players to take part.

Turner divided the football team into weight-training groups, and he motivates the groups to participate by offering rewards for the best attendance.

Esvelt said about 90 percent of the athletes who frequent the weight room are football players.

Wrestlers, many who also play football, and members of Adkins’ girls basketball team are also well represented, Esvelt said.

It can be intimidating for first-time lifters, both boys and girls, to work side-by-side with weight-room veterans, Esvelt said, so the program emphasizes form over weight.

“We try to remove the fear factor of coming into the weight room,” Esvelt said.

Not all of the work takes place in the weight room. Once a week the students meet at Wildcat Memorial Stadium and do a variety of tasks like flipping large tires, throwing smaller tires, running the bleachers, pushing prowler sleds and whipping war ropes.

The weight room is open twice a day (7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m.) and about 35 kids attend, Esvelt said.

The work the athletes are putting in is evident, Esvelt said.

Esvelt, who is an assistant football and wrestling coach, said, “We are on the smallish side (in football). We don’t have big bruisers, the 6-5, 300-pound guys, so we have to be more physically fit. Our fitness gives our guys a mental toughness. We don’t break down half way through the season. This program gives us better and more fit athletes.”

Several Coupeville coaches learned about the SST program at a clinic, and assistant football coach Brett Smedley used the program when he worked a Battle Ground.

They first implemented the program in February of 2012 and ran it through August; they are repeating the schedule this year.

SST is “power based,” VanVelkinburgh said. “We are not looking for maximum lifts. Instead of being statically strong, we want to be powerful.”

He added, “It is based on 30 percent maximum; it is based on quickness.”

The creator of SST, Steve Kenyon, is visiting Coupeville Sept. 7 to train coaches and teachers and give demonstrations for parents.

Kenyon’s philosophy is “instructional based, sports performance training using free-weight, multi-segment, standing position exercise for all athletes.”

One of the plusses of the program, VanVelkinburgh said, is that it is great for any age – you can be as young as 8 – because it does not put a lot of stress on the joints.

In the Coupeville High School program, the athletes test in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, kneeling medicine ball toss, standing broad jump and I-test (a short shuttle run) to measure growth.

VanVelkinburgh said the program is a combination of speed,  strength and balance, and it also teaches different kinds of running and running form.

“We want lean and agile athletes with good leg strength,” and the result is “good team speed,” he said.

About 20 athletes consistently attend; the weight room is open 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. during the summer.

Smedley and VanVelkinburgh are the primary advisors with other coaches filling in when needed.

“The kids love it,” VanVelkinburgh said. “They work hard.”

He added, “They like it once they try it. The hard part is getting them here.”

Both Oak Harbor and Coupeville open their weight rooms throughout the year for students to work out, and both offer special programs during the summer months.

At Oak Harbor High School, primary weight room advisors Jon Adkins and Peter Esvelt developed a program that they think is the best fit for the majority of their athletes.

At Coupeville High School, the program SpeedStrengthTraining (SST) is the focal point, according to weight room supervisor Dustin VanVelkinburgh.

Esvelt said Oak Harbor  previously used the nationally known Bigger Faster Stronger program but found that it wasn’t universal enough.

He said, “It wasn’t ideal for the 150-pound guard trying to pack on the pounds.”

Esvelt said the program he developed with Adkins emphasizes many body-weight lifts, adding Adkins is “big on power lifts” from his time working at Washington State University.

“No program fits all kids,” Esvelt said, “but so far we have been really happy on how this has worked out.”

“This program takes effort,” he said. “It is hard work.”

The program appears to meet the needs of all athletes, with the possible except of cross country runners, he said.

The OHHS weight room is open to all students and they are not required to follow the program. Football head coach Jay Turner, however, expects his players to take part.

Turner divided the football team into weight-training groups, and he motivates the groups to participate by offering rewards for the best attendance.

Esvelt said about 90 percent of the athletes who frequent the weight room are football players.

Wrestlers, many who also play football, and members of Adkins’ girls basketball team are also well represented, Esvelt said.

It can be intimidating for first-time lifters, both boys and girls, to work side-by-side with weight-room veterans, Esvelt said, so the program emphasizes form over weight.

“We try to remove the fear factor of coming into the weight room,” Esvelt said.

Not all of the work takes place in the weight room. Once a week the students meet at Wildcat Memorial Stadium and do a variety of tasks like flipping large tires, throwing smaller tires, running the bleachers, pushing prowler sleds and whipping war ropes.

The weight room is open twice a day (7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m.) and about 35 kids attend, Esvelt said.

The work the athletes are putting in is evident, Esvelt said.

Esvelt, who is an assistant football and wrestling coach, said, “We are on the smallish side (in football). We don’t have big bruisers, the 6-5, 300-pound guys, so we have to be more physically fit. Our fitness gives our guys a mental toughness. We don’t break down half way through the season. This program gives us better and more fit athletes.”

Several Coupeville coaches learned about the SST program at a clinic, and assistant football coach Brett Smedley used the program when he worked a Battle Ground.

They first implemented the program in February of 2012 and ran it through August; they are repeating the schedule this year.

SST is “power based,” VanVelkinburgh said. “We are not looking for maximum lifts. Instead of being statically strong, we want to be powerful.”

He added, “It is based on 30 percent maximum; it is based on quickness.”

The creator of SST, Steve Kenyon, is visiting Coupeville Sept. 7 to train coaches and teachers and give demonstrations for parents.

Kenyon’s philosophy is “instructional based, sports performance training using free-weight, multi-segment, standing position exercise for all athletes.”

One of the plusses of the program, VanVelkinburgh said, is that it is great for any age – you can be as young as 8 – because it does not put a lot of stress on the joints.

In the Coupeville High School program, the athletes test in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, kneeling medicine ball toss, standing broad jump and I-test (a short shuttle run) to measure growth.

VanVelkinburgh said the program is a combination of speed,  strength and balance, and it also teaches different kinds of running and running form.

“We want lean and agile athletes with good leg strength,” and the result is “good team speed,” he said.

About 20 athletes consistently attend; the weight room is open 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. during the summer.

Smedley and VanVelkinburgh are the primary advisors with other coaches filling in when needed.

“The kids love it,” VanVelkinburgh said. “They work hard.”

He added, “They like it once they try it. The hard part is getting them here.”

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