Strength and conditioning stays strong amidst COVID-19


This year the strength and conditioning program has undergone quite a bit of change. Varsity athletes depend on this program to prepare for their upcoming sports season. Fall athletes utilize this program in winter to stay in shape following their fall season and to possibly prepare for the spring season. Steve Notebaert and Michael Webster were the tag team coaches of the past, but this year there are some new faces to the program. Joining Mr. Notebaert are Coach Deanna Mayza and Coach Kurt Neumaier. 

When asked about the most negative change that had to be made to the strength program due to COVID-19, Mr. Notebaert explained, “We’ve changed everything up. The hardest part is the limited capacity we have in the weight room, but it’s actually also a positive.” Only around 12 to 16 athletes can train at once, which makes it difficult to schedule time blocks. As a result, athletes’ workouts start anytime from 3:30 p.m. until 5:45 p.m.. Despite the timing difficulties, Mr. Notebaert pointed out that those 12 to 16 athletes can get more attention and coaching on any given day.

Katie Newkirk ’22 feels confident in the program’s ability to prepare her for the upcoming ice hockey season. “There are usually two or three coaches in the weight room on lift days correcting technique and pushing us to be better. We get one-on-one help with any exercise we need, which helps me make sure I’m getting the most out of my training,” Newkirk said.

In past years, athletes lifted Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week and had speed drills on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yoga was also assigned to each group once per week. The schedule was set in stone, but this year the workout for each day is not the same for each group. Yoga is also being utilized twice per week. This is thanks to Coach Mayza and Coach Neumaier, Mr. Notebaert said, who run, supervise and coach different aspects of training. Coach Mayza, for example, spends time at the Far Fields running hill sprint drills while the other coaches are able to work with athletes in the field house. Coach Neumaier is only set to work with the program through the fall, and Coach Mayza is set to stay through the spring.

Strength and conditioning program veteran Julia Weiss ’21 spoke to the importance of having both new coaches in the program. “They allow Mr. Notebaert flexibility because everything doesn’t fall on him. So it allows us to be able to do more things in various places. They’ve also been really nice sources of encouragement. They’re both really fun and kind and want to push us. Having that come from someone who isn’t Mr. Notebaert just pushes you and makes you want to push yourself too,” Weiss said. 

There have also been some new equipment additions to the weight room, which Mr. Notebaert explained as “pretty exciting stuff.” The program has been able to build an entire day of workouts with their new additions, including sleds, tires, kettlebells, bands and battle ropes.

Without a doubt, the strength program has been forced to change a lot this year, but Mr. Notebaert could not define anything he thought was completely negative and found numerous positive changes. Despite every obstacle, Mr. Notebaert explained the goal for the program remains the same. He noted, “We want student-athletes to have an experience like a collegiate strength and conditioning program. I want to make sure I’m investing my time in making you guys feel like you are getting better.”