When Bronson Schaake, Immaculata High School's athletic director and boys basketball coach, walked into the gym Tuesday morning, students began filing in to the weight room.
The crowd included a wide demographic, ranging anywhere from senior basketball players to sixth-graders.
Despite the differences in age, build and gender, one by one the students all plucked their individual weight cards from the same bin, preparing to begin the morning’s work.
Since June 2, Schaake and a handful of coaches and parents have been running a summer offseason program for Immaculata four days a week.
While Immaculata has had weight programs in the past, Schaake said one of his first moves as athletic director was to try and change the mindset of the school’s athletics — thus, the summer workout program was created.
“It’s a change of mindset around here of complacency,” Schaake said. “I think it’s something we need to attract around the area. If we can pull kids in to do it through any sport we can, if we can offer this to them — they want that.”
The program accepts any student from the area — not just from Immaculata — looking for a structured and guided workout program, and combines all the school’s sports into the same offseason.
New head football coach Frederick Elliot said it’s the combination of sports that he expects will bring about a change around the halls of Immaculata.
As a student at the school in the 1980s, Elliot remembers a time when the school’s athletics were strong and the athletes willing. Offering his help with the program immediately after accepting the football job the first week of June, Elliot said he wants the school's athletic programs to get back to their roots.
“It builds unity among the kids, so they trust each other,” Elliot said. “You need trust to make a team, so that’s what it does. All the kids are like one big family to each other.”
The program runs from Monday through Thursday and begins around 8 a.m. before adjourning at 9:30 a.m.
Schaake sticks around the school until noon to offer alternative times so students don’t have to miss workouts due to other arrangements.
The workout kicks off every morning with student-led stretching before hitting the weight room for an hour or so.
Each individual begins the summer by maxing out each individual lift, then the rest of the lifting agenda is dictated by that maximum weight.
The last 30 minutes of each workout is reserved for speed and agility training, something Schaake said is an important aspect of an offseason that some Immaculata students have no experience with.
Senior football, basketball and baseball player Joel Penfield said Schaake’s program has already done wonders for athletes since it began.
“The workouts have been a lot more extensive and it’s really getting everybody stronger,” Penfield said. “It’s going to be a whole new Immaculata athletics, I can already tell that right now. We have a great group of seniors who are going to help start that.”