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Preparing the Whole Athlete

Watkinson Rams Get Ready for the 2021-22 Athletic Seasons

We are excited! Interscholastic athletics will return to Watkinson this fall. While our students participated in a variety of intramural sports over the course of the 2020-21 school year, we know that there is an elevated level of play and competition that comes when you compete against an opponent who isn’t your friend or classmate. As such, Athletics Director Ann Haggerty is running a 9-week summer conditioning program to get our athletes ready.  More than twenty students have opted to come to campus twice a week to work with Phillip Harr, a certified strength and conditioning trainer who is particularly skilled in youth fitness development. The surprising part of the story is that not all of the students attending the conditioning program have been varsity athletes at Watkinson.  Haggerty thinks this is due to the fact that, “Students know it feels good to move, and to move with intensity, and they know it’s more fun to do it with old friends — or while making new friends — under the direction of a coach with great energy.”

While on campus, the types of activities that students are doing include activations to engage specific muscles, such as “monster walks” with resistance bands; agility work performed in ladders and around flags; and cardio fitness challenges such as timed line sprints and hill climbs.   

This summer strength and conditioning work comes on the heels of “mental skills training” done with Erik Wolfgang-Pinto this spring. Wolfgang-Pinto, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with a specialization in the area of mental conditioning for student athletes, connected with Watkinson students and coaches by playing intramural activities with them. Afterwards he invited individuals to sit down and talk with him one-on-one about their goals moving forward, specifically about re-emerging as student athletes. Some of the takeaways from these conversations included establishing mindsets like: 

  • feeling the pressure of coaches’ high expectations is a privilege that is earned and embraced by true competitors; 
  • striving to become process focused not results focused, as the path for athletes is bigger than the result of any one play or game; and 
  • in team sports, there are many factors which cannot be controlled by athletes that contribute to the final score of a game — embracing this mindset frees athletes from a negative mindset and allows them to play more freely and move closer to individual peak performance to the benefit of both themselves and the team.

Haggerty adds, “I am very proud of our work last spring; it is evidence of Watkinson’s broader holistic approach to onboarding students into sports. And of course, everyone at Watkinson is so eager for the Rams’ 2021-22 athletics season to begin!”

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