[Nameplate] Fair ~ 91°F  
Feels like: 98°F
Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Bulldogs hit the weights

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A.J. Vanover, a Sikeston High School sophomore, squats during a morning weightlifting session at the Field House.
SIKESTON - Summer time means vacation time for high school kids. Time to go to the river. Time to take a trip. Time to relax.

But it's not all relaxation for high school athletes.

For those that have a desire to excel in sports, they spend the time in the weight room.

The Sikeston football coaching staff offers weightlifting and conditioning programs during the months of June and July to all high school boys and girls free of charge.

Sikeston Bulldog head football and track and field coach Jerry Dement says the programs are a way of trying to keep up with the Joneses in high school athletics.

"You want to prepare your kids physically for the athletic events they're going to be in," said Dement. "Our weightlifting and conditioning program doesn't just make you stronger. We work on flexibility as well, because that's a key component for injury prevention.

"We work on speed development which is paramount in most your athletic events now. The faster you are the better your chances of success. We work on agility, so you can change direction quickly. We work on balance and some different kinds of skills. It's just a generalized program to make kids better athletically."

Dement and his staff offer the program three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, at two different times, 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Sikeston Field House.

The two different time slots are designed to make it easier for students to pick a session that best suits their schedule. That way it won't impinge on sports that students play during the summer.

"We don't want to interfere with each respective sports season," said Dement. "Being a coach of two sports and a supporter of all others, I understand that. Parents need to realize that if their kid plays baseball in the summer, they still need to lift weights and do their running. The same goes for all sports. You've got to train constantly to be successful against other athletes that are training.

"There are still some misconceptions about working out on the day of a game and all that kind of stuff. There's very little, if any, effect. That's old school --

that's not educated information and we've got to do a better job of transferring that knowledge. You can lift in the morning and play a baseball game at night. Obviously if you're a pitcher or a catcher, we'd modify their lifting program. Any other position wouldn't make a difference."

Dement said the program isn't just weightlifting, but several different ways of improving athleticism.

"We do lifts, not just powerlifting, but different types of athletic lifts," said Dement. "We work the different parts of the body, especially the legs and lower body, which are very important. We do plyometrics for jumping, we do jump roping, medicine ball drills, and different kids of footwork drills, like dot drills and ladders. We do drills that can make a kid better in all the components of athleticism to make them stronger, faster, quicker, more agile and tough."

Dement says the program isn't just for athletes, but for a student that might want to stay physically fit.

But he also says that some students, despite the professional supervision and the state of the art facilities, haven't taken advantage of the program.

"We've had fair response to it -- I think we can do much better," said Dement. "I want parents to understand that if they want their son or daughter to be successful, they're going to have to encourage and insist that they stay prepared. Talent can only take you a short way. The rest of it has to be done with hard work. We've made small amounts of progress in the last year, but we're nowhere where we need to be as far as the amount of kids that show up."

And while Dement is hoping for all Sikeston athletes to participate in the summer programs, he certainly has an interest in helping his football and track and field programs.

"In football we have to make our athletes understand that it's a strength, speed and toughness sport," said Dement.

"You can't just start the first day of practice. You won't be prepared to beat the people that have been doing what you should have been doing all summer. We've got some kids here that have really worked hard to get better and we've got some that haven't hardly done anything. We've got to change that attitude."

The program will continue through July and then fall sports practices will be starting in early August.

Dement says it's still not too late for students to come out and prepare for the upcoming sports seasons or just stay physically fit.

"The main thing is I want the kids to know how important it is that for an athlete to be successful in today's climate, you have to prepare constantly, because your competition is," said Dement. "And just practicing the skill is enough. Sure you need to practice shooting a basketball, or throwing a football, or swinging a bat, but in order execute those skills better, you've got to be stronger, quicker and faster than your opponent. We still have people that don't understand that.

"To execute a skill properly, it helps to be stronger, faster, bigger and tougher. I think we tend to gravitate towards the skills too much because that's the easy thing to do and it's the fun thing to do. It's easy to go out and play. And yes it should be fun, but part of fun is being successful and to be successful you have to pay the price in the weight room."