Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A New Year Begins

Well, squirrels here we are back at school and ready for a new year.  So far things seem to be going much better than in previous years.  Soccer won their three matches and volleyball is much improved; victory is close.  As always we have some injuries early in the season.  Ladies, most injuries occur during the first three weeks of practice.  Why do you think that is the case?  What happens during those first three weeks?

I have a good idea and I have been sharing this with the fighting squirrels for seven years now.  Conditioning must be accomplished in the off season and preseason.  An athlete can not expect to do little or no training for three months and get into condition in the two weeks before the first competition.  Many of the injuries we see early in the year are because our athletes were not prepared.  This is a cautionary note to basketball, softball and tennis.  Your seasons are still months away.  Take the time to get ready for your sport.

Too many of you believe that by running at a slow, steady pace for two or three miles 3 times a week is all the conditioning you require for your sport.  This type of running is fine for the average college student who just wants to watch their weight and get a little exercise.  For an athlete, that is not training.  In the three sports that will coming into season over the next few months, much more work is required for proper conditioning.

 You must sprint, jump and lift weights.  To prepare for your sport you must perform sports specific training.  Sports specific training requires you to perform exercises that are as similar to your sport as possible.  The last time I checked, a basketball player does not go out on the floor and run around at a steady pace for 20 or 30 minutes.  Basketball players run, jog, walk, jump, fight for rebounds, box out.  They run forward, backward, sideways.  Softball requires quick bursts of energy, the same for tennis.  Softball and tennis also have similar arm movements which put stress on the shoulder.  All of these different stresses need to be addressed prior to the first practice.  There is an old saying, "Championships are won in the off season."

To become great you must separate yourself from your fellow students.  You are athletes and you must train like athletes.  Many of you know what you need to do.  So, as the saying goes, "Just do it."  If you need help see me.  The weight room is open from 6 AM - 9 PM Monday through Thursday, 6 AM to 5 PM on Friday and 12 noon to 5 PM on Saturday.  Do not tell me you don't have time; I am sure you spend more than an hour a day on your smart-phone.  Come to the gym, work hard, relieve some stress and get in condition for your sport.  With proper conditioning you will feel less sore during those first practices and can reduce your risk of injury.  Being out of shape is not a permanent condition.  You must strive to elevate yourself above the rest.  March on Squirrels.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why Do We Do What We Do? Part II

As you learned from my last post I was getting ready to retire from the Marine Corps and was getting my MA in Physical Education and Recreation.  After taking an athletic training class I thought this would be a perfect second career for me.  I think most of you are aware that Marines tend to be in good physical condition.  I read a lot about running and weight lifting and informed myself about those subjects while in the Corps.  The athletic training class taught me about another aspect of physical fitness, injury prevention and rehabilitation.  I was the oldest person in the class at age 42.  I enjoyed working with the young athletes in the class.  This atmosphere was a little like the Marine Corps;  people worked hard, fought through setbacks (injuries)  and did their best to reach a common goal.

I was lucky enough to intern under a great athletic trainer at a local high school.  My schedule was a little hectic.  I did physical fitness training with the midshipmen at 0530 (5:30 AM), taught class, counseled students, went to class and, at the end of my official work day, I went to the local high school to do my training.  I tried to get home on the weekends, my family lived 3.5 hours away.  After I retired, I substitute taught and continued my intern training at the same high school my children attended.  I bet they loved having dad roam the hallways.

Finally, I had my intern hours done and took the National Athletic Trainers Board of Certification test.  A three part, all day test.  I waited for the results and when they came I was disappointed.  To become an athletic trainer one had to pass all three parts, I passed two parts easily, but missed the other part by 1 point.  I had to retake that portion of the test.  A few months later I finished that requirement and received my certification as an athletic trainer.  It took hours of study and intern time, but the hard work paid off.  

After my children grew up and left home, my wife and I decided we wanted to move back to the east coast.  We both grew up in New Jersey, went to the same high school and started dating way back then.  We had lived in Virginia during my time in the Marines and really loved the area.  Carol took a job in Harrisonburg and I followed.  I worked at Massanutten, as a life guard.  Then I worked at the Rockingham Memorial Hospital 's wellness center as a personal trainer, maintenance man and life guard.  I soon became the aquatic' supervisor.  This was a very time consuming job, and I was not happy.  After a short employ with a security company, I moved up to the very high profile job of cutting grass at Massanutten Resort for the summer.  You learn to do what you have to do to earn a living.  This grass cutting job really makes for a great conversation when people tell me that Americans will not do that kind of work. 

Then it happened, Carol saw an ad in the newspaper.  Mary Baldwin College was looking for an athletic trainer.  I applied, met with Sharon our Athletic Director and the rest, as they say, is history.  I have to admit, I was a little concerned about being at an all women's college.  However, it has turned out great.  I love working with young people.  I think it helps to keep me young, at least in my heart.  The body may get old, but the mind and spirit do not have to follow.  I do this because I like the people I work with, the small campus and the students.  I think I can help young women become better athletes and, more importantly better people.

If you have read all of this and are still awake good for you.  I hope you can see that the journey through life takes many twists and turns.  In high school I didn't even know there was a thing called an athletic trainer.  I have traveled around the country and the world.  I have settled in on of the most beautiful areas in the world.  Take the time to look around.  Enjoy life.  Do every job to the best of your ability.  Don't be afraid to try something different.  There is no job that is below you.  Keep your head up and March on Squirrels!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Do We Do What We Do?

 Our Athletic Director, Sharon Spalding, asked us to blog about our experience with being an athlete.  I grew up in the "Garden State", New Jersey.  I played baseball and basketball as a young lad, but didn't really get into sports until I started playing football.  The summer before 6th grade, my family traveled to Florida to visit my uncle and his family.  When we returned to New Jersey, all my friends disappeared at 4 PM every day to attend Pop Warner Football practice.  While I was away for 2 weeks everybody in my neighborhood decided to play football.  I decided I wanted to play too.  I went to practice and was told they didn't have any more uniforms, but the coaches were sure that some of the kids now on the team would quit and I would get a uniform.  I went to practice in jeans and a t-shirt and ran all the drills, I just could not hit.  As the practices became more and more contact oriented, the coaches prediction proved true, many kids started to drop out.  Finally I got my uniform and all my friends, who motivated me to go out for the team, quit.  I loved the hitting.  I was a little butterball of a kid, but I found my place.

By my 8th grade year I was too fat to play.  There was a weight limit of 115 lbs.  I was over 125.  I put myself on a diet and did a summer work-out.  By the time weigh-ins came around I was down to 111 lbs.  I was captain of the team that year and we had a great season.  I was looking forward to high school football.
 My freshman season didn't last long.  I broke my arm one week before the first game.  I was heart broken.  I hung around and continued to go to every practice.  High school football was king in South River.  We had several stars from our school.  Joe Theisman and Drew Pearson, both super bowl winners were South River Rams.  I played center and our greatest moment came my senior year.  One of our big rivals came to town.  The East Brunswick Bears were 6 - 0, we were a humble 3 - 3.  All 3 loses were close, but close doesn't count.  The Bear's fans came to our stadium and painted the score board and bleachers in there school colors, green and white.  When we got to the school Saturday morning for the game our coaches took us to the field to show us the paint job.  They also read us the news paper predictions.  The closest any of the sports writers had the score was Bears 35 - Rams 7.

We were not about to roll over.  We knew we could beat this team.  They had two players who were being scouted by Division I programs, we had 0 being scouted.  Their linemen averaged close to 210 lbs.  Our line averaged 190.  We won 35 - 24.  It was the greatest game I ever played in.  At the end of the game I did not want to stop playing.  That was 40 years ago.  When I go home, people still talk about that game.  I have had people say that was the greatest football game they ever saw.

I played one more year of football in college, but quickly learned that I was too slow, too small, and lacked the talent to play at Division III level.  I entered the Marine Corps after college and stayed for 20 years.  I've run 4 marathons and numerous half marathons.  My last tour of duty was as an instructor with the NROTC at The Ohio State University.  I was working on a Master's Degree in Physical Education and Recreation and took an athletic training class.  I thought being an Athletic Trainer would be a great thing to do after I retired from the Corps.  That is how I came to my new profession.

Were are you going?  What is your plan?  Have you made the decision to be better and upset some of the schools in our conference?  East Brunswick High School should have beaten us; they were bigger, stronger and confident.  Why did we win?  I'm not sure I have the answer, but I know it all starts with your state of mind and physical preparedness.  March on squirrels.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What did you do this week?

Hello squirrels.  I know, two posts in one week who would believe it.  I have been here at Mary Baldwin for the volleyball camp and have been thinking a lot about the upcoming year.  As I stated in the last blog, there are 10 weeks left to get competition ready before the season starts.  What did you this week to become a champion?

Here is a sample of my workouts this week:

Sunday - easy 4 miles run, push ups and pull ups

Monday - weight training; bench, lat pull, press, seated row, curls, triceps push, core work

Tuesday - one mile run, then circuit course on the track, 1/2 mile cool down.
the circuit course include step ups. body weight squats, pull ups, push ups, leg flutters, lunges

Wednesday - Weight training  (see Monday)

Thursday - 2 mile run with step ups and power jumps.

Did you do at least what you see above?  If not, why not?  You are a young, healthy athlete.  You have to compete against other young, healthy athletes. That high fitness level can make up for a lot of deficits in talent.  If you can continue to play at a high level late in the game you can steal victories from teams with more talent.  If you are in condition when you come to school your coaches can concentrate on increasing your skill level and not have to worry about your conditioning.

Please, no more excuses;  hit the track, hit the weights and get in condition.

March on squirrels.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hello Fighting Squirrels.  I hope your summer is going well and you have made the time to get prepared for the next school year.  I know some of you don't even want to think about next year at this point, but time marches on.  If you are a Fall athlete, you only have 10 weeks before you start.  Please prepare yourself for practice.  Remember how sore you were last year?  Avoid the pain by training now.  You still have time to come to practice in great condition.  You have the workouts, do them.  Push yourself to get faster and stronger.

My plan in August and September is to test all athletes.  The five tests will evaluate you on your strength, flexibility, power and endurance.  You will perform the sit-and -reach test for flexibility, a no-step vertical leap for power, a 20 yard sprint for speed, a 300 yard shuttle run for endurance and bench press for strength.  If you are reading this and dreading the testing already, you need to stop dreading this and look at this as a challenge.  I want you to do your best and I am sure you want your team to out perform the other teams.

We had some high points last year and some low spots.  We can get better.  You have the opportunity to participate in Division III athletics.  Take advantage of this opportunity.  You do not want to look back and wonder what you could have done if you worked a little harder.  Regret is a terrible emotion.  Endure the pain of hard work to avoid the pain of regret.  Please do not wait until you return to school to try and get into condition.  It takes 8 to 10 weeks to make a difference in your conditioning.  10 weeks!!

Summer time foods can really help or destroy your diet depending on what you decide to eat.  If you decide to scarf down burgers, ice cream, fried Snickers Bars and cotton candy you will hurt your body and gain unwanted weight.  If you decide to eat all the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are available in the summer you can maintain a healthy weight and help your body.  An occasional deviation to the dark side is fine.  I like burgers and ice cream myself, but use a little self restraint.

I read two great books already this summer.  One is The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood.  The other is The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitins.  If you need some motivation to get you going, grab these books.  The human body and spirit are incredible.  You can do amazing things, if you want to do them.  Our society is extremely lazy.  We complain about so many things, but do nothing to make a change.  We blame others for our faults and make excuses for our failures.  The people in these books were put in terrible situations, but instead of feeling sorry for themselves they were able to overcome horrible mishaps.  Hopefully none of you are facing horrible situations.  You are simply facing life and everything life throws at you on a daily basis.  Stand up and do the right thing for yourself, your family and your teammates.  March on Squirrels!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Happened to Me

Some of you may be wondering where I have been.  I have been right here at Mary Baldwin College, "Home of the Fighting Squirrels."  However I have had a lot on my mind.  As many of you know I am not a fan of the current and future president and I was terribly disappointed in the election results.  The stress is terrible, that is one of the reasons I exercise, to relieve stress.  The other reason is that I had to go to the dermatologist to undergo Moh's surgery for Basal Cell Carcinoma, that is a type of skin cancer.  Basal cell is the least serious of the skin cancers and I am fine.  I bring this up not because I want your sympathy, but I do want your attention.

In my lifetime I have lost friends and family members to cancer.  I have also seen many survivors fight this terrible disease.  Cancer can affect anyone, and leading a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee you a cancer free life; however, there are lifestyle changes that can reduce your chance of getting cancer.  We all know about cigarette smoking, and yet I see many young ladies smoking.  Please stop!  I also see many young ladies at MBC with beautiful, golden tans in the dead of winter.  Unless they are flying to Jamaica on the weekends I suspect they are visiting a tanning salon.  Please stop!

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a report that indicated tanning salons are not providing accurate information about the dangers of tanning.  The committee questioned several tanning establishments.  When the salon owners were asked whether tanning posed a risk to fair-skinned teenage girls, 90% of those asked stated that there was no health risk.  Further, 51% denied that this population had a risk of developing skin cancer.  Teenage girls are are used in advertisements for these establishments.  These girls look healthy and happy and they probably are, for now.  The industry is targeting you.

The Skin Cancer Foundation's position is that ultraviolet light (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen.  New research has shown that just four visits to a tanning booth per year increases your risk of melanoma by 11% and increases your risk of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma by 15%.  The sun and the tanning booth both produce UV rays that can be harmful to your skin. 

When in the sun, protect yourself with sun screen having an Broad Spectrum SPF of at least 15.  I don't want you to fear the sun just respect the sun.  A great tan may look good now, but too much exposure will age your skin and could lead to skin cancer.  You can not avoid the sun, especially if you are an outdoor athlete, but you can wear appropriate clothing, sun glasses and  sun screen.  A tan looks great, cancerous lesions do not.

Melanoma is a potentially deadly cancer which can start in the skin and spread to the lymph nodes and liver.  This is the most serious type of skin cancer and can lead to death.  Basal cell carcinoma, also know as a rodent ulcer (some of you may think I'm a rat, but that has nothing to do with the name), is a slow growing cancer which is usually found on the face.  This cancer does not spread to other parts of the body.  Squamous cell carcinoma is also a type of skin cancer which can become deadly if left untreated.  Google these diseases, look at the pictures and educate yourself.

I am not one who wants to scare you.  I just want to give you information.  You are smart, young adults.  You have the right to make poor choices.  I urge you take the time to stay healthy.  Enjoy the sun, enjoy your health and enjoy your youth.  March on Squirrels!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Good Advice from Mom

Well, we have been here at Mary Baldwin College "Home of the Fighting Squirrels" for almost 2 months.  We have now had time to pass around all the germs we brought from our home town, home state, or home country.  Do you know anyone who is sick?  Have you been sick?  If you answered no, don't worry you will soon answer yes to at least one of those questions.  Let's try to make sure you will only answer yes to the first question.  Again listen to your mother.

At Health.com there is a list of 14 things you can do to help avoid colds and the flu.  I will summarize the article and add some of my own insights. 

1.  "Wash your hands."  You may have heard that once or twice in your life, usually right before dinner.  But this time of year it is important to wash much more frequently.  Wash your hands after class, after shaking hands and after going to the store.  If you can't wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer.

2.  Keep your hands away from your face.  By touching your face you can transfer germs directly to the area of your body where they can gain the easiest access to your system.

3.  Get 8 - 10 hours of sleep.  I know, "this is college man we don't sleep."  Most  of you do have the time to sleep; you choose not to.

4.  Get a flu shot.  Easy, go to the health center.  Don't tell me you are afraid of needles, I've seen the tats!!

5.  Eat Healthy.  Check out my last blog.

6. Work out.  A good workout helps to boost your immune system.

7.  Stay away from friends who are not feeling well.  Bring them their chicken soup, then get the heck out of there.

8.  Sanitize yourself.  Use alcohol wipes on your phone, your mouse and your computer key board.

9.  Quit smoking.  I am not big on the government telling people what to do and I don't like it when people tell me how to live; however, I strongly recommend you stop smoking.  The evidence is pretty clear, smoking is detrimental to your health.

10.  No double dipping.  If you dip your chips, only do it once.  Also, stay away from reaching into a bag of chips or a bowel of candy that may be sitting out.  The person that just reached in for a mouthful of M&Ms may have just coughed into their hand.

11.  If you carry a cloth handbag or a cloth back pack, they are germ magnets.  You often place them on the floor in the classroom, on the floor in the dining hall, on the floor in the bathroom and then you put them on the table.  Keep the bags off the table and keep them clean.

12.  Don't bite your nails.  This is tough for me, but I am trying.

13.  Smile.  A positive attitude helps to keep you healthy.  It is amazing to me how so many of you look sad and blue when I see you on campus.  You may think life is pretty tough, but most of you have a full belly, a warm place to sleep and a chance to get a great education.  Many people around the world have none of the above.  Count your blessings, I gave you the first three.

14.  Sneeze into the crook of your elbow not your hands.  This will keep you from transferring germs to your friends, no biological warfare.

There are no guarantees that by following the above rules you will avoid a cold or the flu, but you have a  fighting (squirrel) chance.  March on squirrels!