PETOSKEY — Throughout much of the last year, Petoskey High School was under construction.
From the front entrance, to the back weight room, a makeover was underway. Now complete, both areas help PHS stand out even more than it already did.
And the hope within the athletic department is that the benefits of that new weight room will begin to show as well.
But, Petoskey Athletic Director Joel Dohm was well aware that expanding the space and adding new equipment wasn’t the only answer to changing results across each athletic season.
That’s where a partnership with Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center (NMSMC) began for a strength and conditioning program to benefit the students.
PHS and Northern Michigan Sports Med teamed up to bring a new program to both physical education classes and the after-school program offered, benefiting both students and student athletes.
“This consistency in programming, instruction and supervision of a complex strength training program is vital to ensuring success and maintaining safety among students, especially with the wide range of ages and athletic abilities of the 200-plus participants in the program at Petoskey High School,” said Dohm.
Leading the program has been NMSMC certified strength and conditioning specialist, Levi Manor. Manor – a former strength and conditioning coach at Upper Iowa University, where he holds a master’s degree is exercise science – has helped implement a curriculum into PE classes at Petoskey.
Manor trains both students and student athletes on more than just the weightlifting and conditioning practices they can benefit from, but places an emphasis on the proper form needed in both areas. Rather than focusing on how much weight students can put on the bar, a shift to technique has taken place.
And with is has been some pretty outstanding results.
Both boys and girls within the new program have increased strength numbers. Hang clean and vertical jump results have leaped 33 percent in girls and 29 percent for boys, while bench press and back squatting results have shown similar jumps. For girls, numbers have risen 25 and 30 percent, respectively, while boys show the progress of 23 and 26 percent for bench and squats.
More than just putting an emphasis on the numbers, Manor wants students and athletes to feel more confident in the weight room and be better prepared mentally, though.
So, he’s incorporated competitions at the end of sessions to help build mental toughness and he’s seeing jumps there as well.
“I’ve watched some of the smallest female students outlast some of the biggest male athletes,” said Manor on the addition of physical challenges. “The look of accomplishment on those girls is just priceless.”
That’s where Manor has seen confidence levels skyrocket and even some taking on a leadership role during training.
“I have been thrilled to see the trust and relationships that have developed between classmates and teammates,” he added.
Along with both a new program and facility, the upgrades to the equipment itself came during the year, thanks much of part to the generous donations of The Kroeger-Mainland Family Fund and Mackenzie, Corbin, Kurtis, Megan and Ken Mainland. New squat racks and weights joined artificial turf and new machines.
One person who has been happy with all of the results so far – and a benefit of Manor’s teachings and the new equipment – is PHS athletic trainer, Lindsey Griffes.
Also contracted through Norther Michigan Sports Med, Griffes has seen injuries cut drastically.
“This program has essentially eliminated injuries that have previously occurred from students who have tried in a weightlifting program,” said Griffes. “Plus, I don’t have as many athletes getting banged up during their sports season. They are just more durable athletes now.”
While it’s a small sample size, it’s the start of Petoskey keeping pace with other Division 1 and 2 programs around the state of Michigan in athletics.
Dohm has seen an increase in interest within the weight room, which has led to the addition of PHS now offering introductory weightlifting and strength training classes beginning in the fall of 2024. In the future, there’s a hope to have a full strength and conditioning program at the school, much like those offered at BNC rivals Traverse City Central and West.
The benefits appear to already be showing and the only steps needed now are to keep moving forward in Dohm’s eyes.
“I believe this program will set our kids up for future success through the lessons it teaches them – discipline, accountability and hard work,” said Dohm. “Not to mention we are teaching them how to maintain an active lifestyle and fitness level. These are true life skills.”
Note: Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center assisted with this article.