Alpena athletes benefiting from weight room upgrade

The high school football season wrapped up nearly two months ago, but offseason training can go a long way in separating teams and programs in future season.

The Alpena High School football team has put in a lot of work so far during the offseason and not just in the weight room. After the season was over, the team held several fundraisers during the fall and winter months and the fundraising recently paid off as Alpena upgraded its weight room, adding new equipment thanks to the fundraising and guidance of head football coach Aaron Sims and his staff.

“We upgraded the weight room through the online fundrasiers and other fundraisers that we did. It was just a decision to spend the money on the weight room and invest it in there where the kids are going to invest a lot of time. For us that is a worthwhile place to invest our finances,” Sims said.

There is a total of 10 new bars, five new squat racks and the team is still waiting on five sets of bumper weights to add to the room. The upgrades were nice, but the amount of student athletes across the entire school that are using the weight room has Sims even more excited.

“Right now we have almost every rack being used and this helps everyone be more efficient in the weight room. We also moved some things around and made it a little more spatious in there,” Sims said. “It really has been huge for us and this is just a start. We’re going to add more as we go and anything we can do to add to it and make it better for these kids is our plan.”

The weight room is open at three different times during the day. Depending on whether or not some athletes have practices before or after school, Sims and his staff are available at different times. Student-athletes come in at 6 a.m. to work out with assistant football and wrestling coach Mike Howard, another group comes in from 10 a.m to noon and the weight room is usually packed right after school from 3-6 p.m.

“Things are going really well. One of the biggest things for us as a football team this past season was we knew what we needed to do, but we just didn’t have the strength to do it and I see a lot of bodies and attitudes changing. We have a lot of commitment and a lot of good things going on in here,” Sims said.

One of the big changes most of these student-athletes haven’t seen before is that the coaches are willing to work out and train with them. Sims and his staff are taking the offseason training so seriously that they are in the weight room doing drills with the team.

“I think the kids dig it. They just see it as another guy working out in there. It’s just what we do as a staff and it’s not really a big scene and I think they appreciate that we’ll lift with them, spot them on reps and not just sit there and be silent observers and tell them what to do. Our coaches get out there and do the same movements and it’s part of our program and a lot of people are buying into it.” Sims said.

Despite Sims being the football coach and his focus on improving the program, he and his staff offer advice to all Wildcat athletes who join the football team at different hours of the day. The football team makes up a big percentage of athletes in the weight room, but student-athletes across all sports have bought into what Sims has brought to the athletic department.

“My big belief is that it is an athletes room, not just a football room. I will take anyone and everyone that wants to work hard, they just have to follow what we’re doing for safety reasons,” Sims said. “We follow the Bigger, Faster, Stronger program which is focused on helping the kids become better athletes and not just football. It’s all about having each kid become a better overall athlete and as we build better athletes, they’ll become better football players. We don’t just want the athletes to be successful football players, we want them to be successful in whatever sport they compete in.”

The Bigger, Faster, Stronger program has been around for more than 30 years and was based out of Colorado. It was developed as a track program that was made to help track athletes become faster and stronger. Sims is a believer in this program that helps both males and females become better athletes.

“Whatever we can continue doing to help and improve the weight room for our athletes, we are going to do,” Sims said. “We have a plan and we’re just getting started with this. There will continue to be progress made by our athletes that come into this weight room each day.”

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.


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