New program focuses on reducing student injuries through strength training

A new parks and recreation department program focuses on keeping student athletes stronger, more flexible and injury-free to keep team rosters healthy and full this coming school year.

From July 18 to July 22, the Youth Strength and Conditioning Camp will teach high school and middle school-aged students how to set and attain physical and nutritional goals.

"We'll certainly emphasize the importance of all the work that we put in, including strength, mobility and range of motion in the spirit of reduced risk of injury," said Lucy Robinson, who is leading the camp along with middle school running club coach Laura Davies and Mason Villarma, who has a background in collegiate running.

Robinson is working on a take-home packet that will show all the activities participants will learn over the five days in hopes that it can spur goal setting within families. "We want to promote that crossover to home life, including nutrition."

She said the camp will teach about hydration and touch on nutrition without diving too deep. "Nutrition can kind of be complex, so we just want to touch on the surface and be able to set some attainable daily goals. They can come in and see their progress throughout the camp."

Robinson said that less calories doesn't necessarily equal better, so there's an emphasis on improving the quality of the calories taken in.

The hope with the program, which will run from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the community gym, is that kids will get enough information to stick with conditioning on their own as the various sports seasons approach.

"It's going to be fast and furious for sure, with the understanding that the way kids learn is little snippets," Robinson said. "We want to do more active-based experiential learning rather than theoretical. We'll do the things, introduce the challenges and goals, and as we head toward the end of camp, we want to set them up for success."

The high school cross country and swimming seasons will be starting soon, and Robinson is reaching out to coaches to let them know about the program in the hopes that athletes will sign up. There were eight registrations as of last Friday.

"It's definitely 100% something we encourage kids to do to prevent things like shin splints and other injuries," said Kayla Rooney, head coach for the cross country team. She believes any training techniques that help her athletes get stronger and stay injury-free is worth running after.

Along with strength and mobility, Robinson said the camp will touch on running drills that include tempo runs, hill repeats, fartleks (interval training) and others. "We're not necessarily going to dive into any long runs or even in the 5k (3.1-mile) region."

Robinson said they would like to hold the camp two or three times throughout the school year so that athletes in different sports can benefit from it, "that way, kids can kind of reset and get that work in, setting some personal goals."

The Youth Strength and Conditioning Camp is $25 per student and is open for registration at or by calling 907-874-2444.


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