Did you know coaches think the emotional benefits of strength training is as important as the physical benefits like making athletes more powerful and faster?
"Strength training is great for stress management and helps not just athletes but all students feel better about themselves," said Staples High School Associate Head Coach Jon Zames.
That is why a fundraising effort to upgrade the school's Fitness Center with new and more equipment is so important.
An upgrade from four to 14 stations will make it more accessible to support the sports teams and physical education program at Staples and ultimately "the entire school community," said Zames. He noted there would be after-school sessions for all students and staff once the renovation is complete.
Ted Huber, a father of three with two children playing Staples sports is leading the charge for the Staples Fitness Center Capital Campaign to raise $115,000.
To date, the three-year effort has raised $104,000 for the upgrade. Along with the new equipment the plan calls for such improvements as new flooring, wall art and music.
Huber explained how a larger facility will benefit Staples athletes.
"First off, some of the larger teams, track or football that have dozens and dozens of athletes that want to train at the same time will be able to process more quickly and secondly, it is going to increase the overall capacity for teams that have not traditionally done training on-site," he said.
In addition, the center's upgrade will help another school. Huber said the existing equipment is usable condition and will be donated to Central High School in Bridgeport, he said.
When planning the fundraiser, "We recognized we had some dated but very functional equipment. We got in touch with the head coach for football at Bridgeport. They have a room dedicated to strength training from when they did a renovation a few years ago."
Meanwhile, the expansion in Westport will increase the training capabilities at Staples for athletes from "about a half dozen to over 20" being able to use it at a time, according to Huber.
Zames said the renovation will be "great for the long term health of all students."
"It will be accessible to more students and at some point, there will be open hours (evenings) for students to work out at the gym. You then open up the opportunity to (create) a sense of community. The students can come to work out with their friends."
Currently, Zames explained, four squat racks serve all the students in gym class and athletes using the facility, noting some teams train off-campus and some on.
"We have 120 kids in the football program and with four squat racks, it's really hard to fit them in now with basketball and wrestling in season at the same time. It's not just squat racks (in the upgrade) but also new bars and safety equipment. Teachers can use it too," he continued.
He also feels great about the plan to donate the existing equipment to Bridgeport Central High School.
"For me and most football coaches, we do this for the kids," Zame said. "It's a great opportunity."
Funding for the effort at Staples has come from the school's athletic department, team booster clubs and various local private organizations.
"We're such a fortunate town with people here able to support these students."
Click here for more about the Staples Capital Campaign.