Tiger Strength: NRHS athletes working to improve future success
Changing the future of an athletic department can’t be done in one day and it can’t be done by one athlete.
High school physical education instructors Keith Badger and Renee Kaczmarski worked with athletic trainer Steph Fall to develop a program that can help students develop their athletic skills. It is also designed with safety and injury prevention as two of its main threads.
“We’re trying to look at the big picture, how we can be better prepared for a higher level of competition,” Kaczmarski said in explaining the intent of the Tiger Strength program.
The New Richmond Coaches Association is a driving force behind the Tiger Strength program. The program was designed to be beneficial for athletes in all sports. Badger keeps logs on all athletes who are attending and each varsity coach is informed on how many of their athletes are taking part in the program.
Each day, the athletes begin their workouts with a dynamic warmup, which includes different movements designed to warm muscles and raise their heart rate.
One of the changes made to the program this year is a set of lifts done each day called “The Core of Four.” These lifts include a front squat, overhead squat, Romanian deadlift and high jump shrug. These lifts were chosen to help athletes work on different aspects of lifting to eventually get to a back squat. These lifts help work the athletes’ core and shoulder girdle strength, according to Kaczmarski.
The students then move to the gym, where they work on speed, agility and quickness. This is done with tempo runs, sprints, lateral movements, assisted running and working with resistance bands. The students end their workout with a series of stretching, with maintaining hamstring flexibility as one of the main goals of the stretching.
The boys and girls work in separate groups, with each gender working in groups based on age and weight room experience. The groups have been so large that the organizers were able to have one group that is all freshman boys. With the younger athletes the instructors have been spending more time on teaching the proper lifting techniques, while the more experienced athletes are given more responsibility for their own lifts and schedules.
The lifts are done on a progressive system where the athletes write out their goals for each week of the eight-week program. The instructors are hoping that the athletes are seeing gains in their lifts as they build strength and get more comfortable with the proper lifting techniques.
The athletes are well supervised, with Badger, Kaczmarski, Jason Eckert, Josh Fiege and Kat Keller as the main supervisors, with many coaches also involved. Kaczmarski said having Keller, who just completed her sophomore season on the University of Minnesota track team, as part of the staff has been a great benefit. She said Keller is an example of the success that can be produced from dedication in the weight room and she is also a natural teacher in showing the young athletes how to correctly perform the lifts.