Strength and conditioning is an important aspect of sports, although sometimes it goes unnoticed. There is an exceptional strength and conditioning program at The University that allows student trainers to interact directly with student athletes. It is a program that is beneficial for both trainers and athletes, and it is growing in popularity. The head of this program is Andrew Stuka.
“It is an academic-based program that is tied into a class that I teach called essentials to strength and conditioning,” Stuka said. “It is a lab opportunity for the students in that class to get hands-on experience. The athletes and the teams are essentially acting as subjects.”
Stuka also discussed the benefits for both parties.
“The dual benefit to the program is that students get hands-on experience, which is the primary focus. Secondly, the athletes get a strength and conditioning program with instructions on how to perform that exercise,” he said.
This program stemmed from an idea Stuka had over four years ago. The implementation of this program has immensely helped student athletes and trainers.
“One of the things with NCAA regulations is that students cannot do anything in the off-season with their coaches. So what we started to do was offer the program as a voluntary thing,” Stuka said. “The athletes realize the benefit from this program, so a lot of them utilize this program and receive help under the watchful eye of a certified specialist.”
While learning things from a textbook is important, the experience the student trainers receive from this experience is invaluable.
“It is one of the things I have noticed they (the student trainers) missed out on. The classroom is one thing, but to actually interact with people, you see the differences from individual to individual,” Stuka said. “When you get out in the real world you will be working with people, so getting the students out of the classroom and interacting with people is very beneficial.”
The program has a strong foundation, and the popularity of it is starting to grow. Athletes, teams, the exercise science department and The University all benefit from the use of this program. Having student trainers interact with student athletes enhances the experience within the exercise science department and makes the athletes better as well.
Stuka also said he believes the success from the program will only make it bigger.
“As the popularity of it grows, it is because of the amount of teams that want to get involved. Originally, we started with just the women’s basketball team, but now a good majority of them want to get involved,” he said. “Depending on the season, it is a voluntary basis, but over the years more teams have taken part in. The success and the numbers are certainly enough to warrant to existence of the program.”
This program is only one of the things that goes into preparation for the beginning of the season. This program is being put to good use with winter sports starting soon at The University.