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Elevating Elevate

Anne Sehon '25

Oct 20, 2023

With many high level athletes training for just one sport at Mercersburg Academy–be it swimming, squash, baseball, or any of several other sports–the  athletics department has run several programs in the last few years that have been geared towards training athletes throughout their off-seasons. Starting this fall term, athletes now have the choice to participate in a new, revamped version of these past programs: Strength and Conditioning.

“It was designed a few years ago,” said Athletics Director Lauren Jacobs. “It was called Elevate, and as a separate program, we had Lifestyle Fitness. But we’re piloting strength and conditioning this fall, which we think is going well so far.” 

Elevate was geared toward training mostly upperclass students who were preparing to play their sport in college, and Lifestyle Fitness was a general fitness program for those who did not participate in a competitive athletic PGA during the given season but who wanted the benefit of training. 

Jacobs continued, “It’s essentially for athletes, any grade ninth through twelfth, who want to pursue something at the next level, where they’re mainly focused in the weightroom on getting stronger, bigger, faster. The only thing is, you have to play two sports or be the lead in the play or something the two other seasons.”

Brian Canida, the Director of Strength and Conditioning, said, “It’s been pretty good. It’s our first term doing it. They’ve all done pretty well and it’s gone smoothly.” 

The PGA has three different components: group work, self-paced work, and time designated to work with coaches for each athlete’s specific sport. “[Currently,] we have basketball, diving, wrestling, lacrosse, and baseball,” said Canida.

“We warmup with some active stretching,” said Alex Van Ess ’24, who is training for diving. “Then, we’ll do some speed work and sprints, and then we’ll move onto the main lifts.” 

The PGA is relatively flexible and gives the athletes the time necessary to put work into their individual sports. Lacrosse player Chloe Allis ’25 said, “Some days we’ll have lifts in the morning and some days we’ll have lifts in the afternoon.” 

Van Ess added, “You can kind of go at your own pace.” 

Allis elaborated, “You go in on your own and you have a set warmup, which always includes some work to get your blood flowing, some rolling out and recovery, and then some speed work, then you’ll do your typical lift, which has a ton of different components to it, but then when you’re done, you leave.” 

Given the athletes’ high work rate, some days they get some time off. “Sometimes we’ll have Wednesdays for stretching,” said basketball player Jay Colon ’25.

“It’s been coordinated. Canida has different folders for us, for different workouts, so that keeps us a lot more coordinated and organized,” Colon continued. “It’s always good to get into a routine going into the season instead of laying back and doing nothing for a semester.” 

Allis added, “It’s a good use of my time and it’s not overwhelming. I feel like it’s working out well for me because I have time to lift and to practice my sport.”

With an array of athletes from many different sports going into their seasons with the strength training necessary to compete well, the athletes feel more confident in themselves, which may lead to better performance 

“It’s nice knowing that you’re getting better at your sport,” said Van Ess. 

Colon shared Van Ess’s sentiment and added, “Basketball season is the term right after this, so I feel like this will really help not only me, but the team, be better, stronger, and more athletic.”

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