For many, weightlifting just part of the game plan

September 09, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Increasingly in the past few years, it has become easy to find the most dedicated athletes, regardless of their sport. They're in the weight room.

Scientific, as well as athletic journals detail the advantages of weight training when done properly. More people are understanding how muscles are used in the performance of their sports.

In the past, many people wrinkled their noses at the sport of weightlifting. Weightlifters attracted attention in Olympic years, but otherwise usually went unnoticed.

Now, there are so many facets to weight training, whether done in a gym or at home, that lifting is simply a part of the program.

"A strength coach has two goals: To enhance performance, and injury prevention," says Leo Totten, athletic director at Francis Scott Key, and a recognized weight training instructor. "We are finding we have to get away from some of the myths associated with weightlifting.

"Now that people are understanding the benefits, the idea of muscle-bound boys and 'masculine' girls is pretty much a thing of the past," Totten said.

"For example, the Chicago Bulls have two strength coaches, and it is not unusual for the players to lift on game days. When done properly, it is fine."

Key football coach Mike Coons, one who has reaped the benefits of a weight training program at the school, says, "It has been a tremendous boon to us. Our biggest problem has been getting the students to overcome fear of the weight room. Right now, we have a core of 10th graders who love it."

Totten cited individuals at other county high schools as having good programs, although they might handle them differently. The group included football coaches Gene Brown (South Carroll) and Ken Johnson (Liberty), lacrosse coach David Dodson (North Carroll), and assistant baseball coach Jim Rodriguez (Westminster).

Rodriguez and Totten, whose weightlifting experience goes back some 20 years to when he was an Olympic candidate (more recently, he was the team leader for the U.S. weightlifting team at the 1996 Olympics), are active in the sport during the summer, and recently headed the East Coast Gold team at the national Junior Olympics.

Among the top contenders were recent Key graduates Heather Abel and Chris Forman and current senior football player Jeff Eyler; Westminster's Billy Arnold, a senior football player, and June graduate Carli Harris.

Abel's training contributed to her All-County volleyball success (she has a 24-inch vertical jump); Forman is a former gymnast, and Harris was an All-Metro field hockey player. Eyler and Arnold earned medals at the JO meet.

Said Totten: "It is a sport that requires incredible mental discipline. We see the interested ones training before and after school. You can measure physical toughness; it is much more difficult to measure mental toughness."

Lacrosse clinic

Capitalizing on three school holidays, Western Maryland coach Keith Reitenbach will hold a three-day clinic for boys, ages 8-15, at the college. The dates are Sept. 15, Oct. 23, and Nov. 3, with information available at 410-857-2567.

Pub Date: 9/09/98

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