Becoming a Strong Woman
I wouldn’t say that I was a big fan of lifting weights when I was a younger athlete. I didn’t understand why I needed to get to school by 6am to lift weights with my team, and do what they called “strength and conditioning”. In 2002 I was a soccer player at Bloomington High School South. Our coach at the time (who had played/coached at a higher level) believed that we needed strength and conditioning to better ourselves, and to be the best team possible. We had two personal trainers who met us in the weight room twice a week before the school day to teach us how to squat, deadlift, hang clean, and to make sure that we weren’t sliding by with using the measly 2.5 pound dumbbells.
Countless hours of weight training, sprinting down the field after practice, 3- mile runs, the beep test, and running the Cooper 12 around the high school track were all things I became very familiar with when it came to training in-season, and in the off-season.
Coach wanted us to be the fastest, the strongest, and the fittest. If a team was going to beat us, they were going to beat us in every way possible- not just technically on the field.
Those four years of playing soccer in high school were some of the best memories of my life. From 1999-2003, I played alongside 10 girls -all of whom had all played together since we were young.
Our Senior year came, and we were READY. Once in the tournament, we won sections, we won regionals, and we advanced to the State Finals where we became State Runners-Up after losing the final State game to Carmel High School (that darn school wins everything!). To this day, we are the only soccer team in Bloomington that has made it that far in the tournament to hold a State Runner-Up title- among both the men and women.
What made us so successful? The team bonding, and dedication certainly played a huge role, but the strength and conditioning that we did throughout our season and off-season was well beyond what other teams were doing at that time – especially for a team of females. Strength and conditioning kept us healthy, injury-free, and helped us stay STRONG when we competed. No doubt it helped our endurance, and agility too.
You see, I was like most young women- I didn’t want to lift weights. I thought they would make me “bulky”. I was worried that my legs would get big. I was worried that my arms would get big.
What happened instead was I became a STRONG woman. I became a strong soccer player who could fight against my opponents in a soccer game, and who frankly, killed it in the off-season. I ran track in the spring (I competed in the State Meet my Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior years), and I did competitive cheerleading in the winter. I became an overall stronger athlete- both mentally and physically.
Strength training at that young age had far reaching benefits for me as an athlete, and as an adult. It helped me become an athlete who cheered at Indiana University, and then later received a cheerleading scholarship to Hawaii Pacific University where I became a three-time national champion.
It helped me to play club soccer while living in Hawaii, and also helped me while training for marathons, and triathlons. Strength training helped me throughout multiple surgeries, and throughout my pregnancy, birth of my son, and life as a mother.
I can’t wait to see how strength training helps me in my future- believe me, I’m still a work in progress! So, for all you young athletes out there, I have some advice: stick with it. Keep up the good strength training work. I promise you, it’s worth it.