By Merrick Eagleton
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Pioneer Summer Pride, a program designed for athletes not involved in football to stay in shape over the summer, has reached the halfway point of a six-week long workout schedule.
Safety and technique is the main focus. Stillwater boys basketball coach Michael Davis said he has seen big benefits from his team lifting year-round.
“I can truly say since we've been in the weight room and made a commitment to the weight room we've had less injuries,” Davis said.
Track coach Rusty Atkins said quickness is another thing they are working on this summer.
“We're not so much worried about getting big and bulky,” Atkins said. “We're worried about lean muscle mass and being more explosive.”
The workouts focus on agility and weight training, The athletes do exercises such as ladders, sleds, weights and jumps. These help them learn speed, strength and specifically hip mobility. In addition to physical activity, the program teaches injury prevention and cooperation. Callie Atkins, Rusty Atkins’ daughter, has been involved with the program since she was 10 and is now playing college basketball as well as helping out with the program. She said it teaches the athletes how to work together too.
“There’s a bunch of different things about unity and team that goes along in working hard and teaching all that with every single sport that’s here instead of just staying in your individual groups,” she said.
Atkins said it is important to have a program like this because most sports have become year round. Football has its own summer workout program, but they designed this program for other athletes to participate in and stay involved.
“Even though they play club sports in the summer they still need to get the weight training and the speed training and the maximum velocity type stuff,” Atkins said.
Senior basketball player Jared Dickey is using this program to help him recover from an injury. Dickey tore part of his meniscus last year and had knee surgery.
“It’s been helping me build my muscles back up,” Dickey said. “Just being around these coaches helped me keep pushing and pushing.”
He is trying to regain his strength this summer so he can play harder this season.
“I know it’s getting me faster and stronger than what I was this past season,” Dickey said.
Pioneer Summer Pride is not required, but many of the coaches encourage it. It is a way for all of the athletes to stay in shape during the off season and be ready to play again during the school year.
“They know, especially my guys, if they play for me it’s probably in your best interest to be a part of the summer workout program,” Davis said.
The program has two age groups. High school athletes work out for two hours each morning and then sixth- through eighth-graders work out for an hour afterward. It runs Monday through Thursday.
“We work them hard those four days and then we give them three days to recover and go play,” Davis said.
There are 140 athletes participating in the Pioneer Summer Pride program.
“By the amount of kids that show up that says that there's interest in the public that they're interested in their kids getting better,” Atkins said.