(Photo by Brandon Barb) [Order this photo]
A new program, created last year, helps not only football players but student athletes in other sports as well. The program wasn't even created with football in mind. It was designed to keep the student athletes in shape and active even while out of season, so they can avoid injury. The school didn't have a lifting and agility program for out-of-season student athletes before this one.
There was, however, a program run by football coach Jim Tighe and Spencer Hospital Strength and Conditioning Coach Tim Birkey. This "football program" went on for a little over six years, according to Birkey.
"This is not a football thing. This is a program for everyone," said Dave Brown, the activities director for Spencer Public Schools. "All sports are intertwined with this."
Brown is in his first year with Spencer Public Schools and was the one behind the new strength and conditioning program. Birkey goes to the school three times a week to coach the out-of-season student athletes. In-season athletes work with Birkey as well.
When the program, started Birkey had every student start on the same level, even students who had lifted weights before. Last winter, the school's weight room was being used by about 60 students. Now, that number is up to around 140 students, according to Brown.
Though weight lifting is a big part of the program, conditioning and agility are parts of it as well. Currently, Birkey does not have the room to work on agility, but he remains focused on building the students' strength, with hopes agility will be added down the road.
"We don't have facilities for the agility part of it," Brown said. "Our gyms are being used before and after school for practice."
This program is designed for both male and female athletes. There are "almost as many girls as there are boys," according to Birkey.
"I like it a lot. I didn't do anything like this last year, and it's really benefiting me," senior Sydney VanWettering, who is on the volleyball and track teams, said. "I'm more confident about the upcoming season now."
Even though the program is fairly new, Birkey is expecting great things from it and the students involved.
"I think it will be tremendous once we get a year under our belt," Birkey said. "Once we get (our) technique and strength it will just build up from there."