Athletic Department Suggests Teams Lift More

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At the start of the fall sports seasons, the athletic department started to recommend that all sports teams use the weight room at least two times a week, both in and out of season.

This decision came as a result of a process that started last November by the athletic department and its head coaches. Their goal is to transform Libertyville’s athletic program into the best in the North Suburban Conference, said athletic director John Woods. 

Mr. Woods said the first step was to “get experts in the field to educate our coaches. We want our athletes to be bigger, stronger and faster,” he exclaimed. 

This is where the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute came in. IBJI was hired with the goal of teaching coaches how to “increase flexibility, strength and durability, while also preventing injuries,” Mr. Woods explained. 

The next step was to get teams into the weight room. Mr. Woods shared that “a survey was taken last year, and 76 percent of athletes said they’ve never lifted, in season or out of season. We want to change that.”

Along with their plans to get more student-athletes in the weight room, the athletic department also hoped to get more expert trainers into the weight room to teach athletes proper form and technique, especially for those with little experience lifting.

The two athletic trainers that were brought in are Faith Ekakitie and Izzy Dolba.

Ekakitie, the former number one overall pick in the 2017 Canadian Football League draft, spends his mornings and afternoons in the weight room “educating students and giving them stuff that will help them in their sports down the road,” he stated.

“I want to make sure everyone is comfortable coming here and getting work done. Not just the football team, either.” 

Ekakitie “brings knowledge and credibility to the weight room,” according to Mr. Woods. 

Dolba, who did track and field in high school, was a member of the women’s rowing team at the University of Iowa.

Although still in the early phases, the new changes have been met with praise from most students, including sophomore varsity dancer Emma Sauers, who spoke highly of her time spent so far in the weight room. 

“Personally, I really like going to the weight room twice a week. Working out there has definitely made our team much stronger,” Sauers stated over text. 

She has taken a liking to their new workout routine because “the weight room is a lot more enjoyable than running the track or any other types of conditioning, mainly because we’re doing so many different exercises. We work our abs, legs and arms throughout our circuits and often use weights. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.” 

Another varsity dancer who has bought into her time in the weight room is sophomore Ryan McGrory. “For the first few sessions, I felt like it took up a lot of time, without any real benefit,” she explained. 

However, as their season has continued, McGrory’s opinion changed: “I feel like as we have gone on in the year, we’ve been able to do more exercises in a shorter amount of time. We’ve definitely made a lot of progress.” 

Both dancers also stated that they felt the new workout plan has helped them not only get stronger individually but also as a team: “I feel like it has definitely helped us grow stronger as a team, not only physically but also just persevering through workouts as a group, together,” McGrory said. 

Sauers credited most of their team’s newfound love of the weight room to Ekakitie. She explained that “[he] is super encouraging. He always pushes us to work as hard as we can, especially when we get really tired. He knows exactly what exercises to give us that will help us get stronger.” 

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