The weight room at Cary Grove High School in Illinois is constantly bustling with students and athletes throughout the day. Teachers, coaches, and administrators at Cary Grove have worked to create a coordinated approach across physical education and athletics to help support students in the weight room.
Mike Manning, the Wellness Divison lead, says that alongside Athletic Director Ryan Ludwig, the overarching goal has been to make weightlifting a priority across the school,
“If we want our students to see the benefits of weightlifting, we as teachers, coaches, and administrators need to prioritize it. And you can really sense that pride around the weight room at Cary Grove.”
The Push For A Coordinated Approach At Cary Grove
The weight room was always an option at Cary Grove High School, but up until 5 years ago, there weren’t dedicated strength classes. While students could drop in to workout and lift, Mike describes how the school worked to make weight lifting a staple of the Wellness program,
“Covid definitely helped accelerate our mission to get more students into the weight room. And now, we have 11 sections of the class over our 9-period schedule. We look at physical education as the foundation for weight training.”
In addition, coaches like Adam Valiga have helped bridge the gap between PE and athletics. Adam, who has helped lead a lot of the before and after-school training, says that it is a group effort,
“Our goal is to work together to blend what is going on in PE with the work we do before and after school. It helps to have everyone on the same page across students, teachers, and coaches, especially since we are at a big school.”
Technology’s Role In A Coordinated Approach
To help keep everyone on the same page, Cary Grove utilizes technology to deliver workouts and track data. Mike describes the role of technology to support a coordinated approach,
“Using PLT4M across physical education and athletics helps everyone operate under one umbrella of unified training. Even with variation across teams and groups, everyone benefits from utilizing a shared training platform.”
Adam, who helps to write and create a lot of the workouts within PLT4M, says that it has been a game-changer for progress and improvement,
“It helps take the guesswork out of training. Students know what they are supposed to be doing on any lift and can see their progress charted over time within the app.”
Better yet, Mike says that the ability to customize within PLT4M has given Cary Grove the freedom to find what works for them,
“The ability to use technology and mold it to your goals, groups, and space is fantastic. At Cary Grove, we have found a great balance between what PLT4M offers and what we want to do. It has made a big difference in how we train across physical education and athletics.”
Cary Grove’s State Championship Success
Cary Grove has pushed for a coordinated approach so that students and athletes can reap the benefits of weightlifting. While many different stories and groups are worthy of spotlighting at Cary Grove, the football team stands out as a stellar example of what happens when a team embraces the weight room.
This past fall, the Cary Grove football team won the 6A state championship in the game’s final drive against a tough opponent. The 2023 state championship added to their impressive history, which includes state champion titles in 2009, 2018, and 2021.
Adam, who has helped spearhead the weight training program for the football team, says that the consistency and connectivity of the program has made all the difference,
“We have seen tremendous gains in the weight room over the last few years, and it comes from a lot of hard work from our student-athletes. For example, when sophomores take health classes and can’t take weightlifting class, they work to find time before and after school to workout. It is ingrained as part of our culture here in a really great way.”
🏆🏈⚔️ Cary-Grove wins the 2⃣0⃣2⃣3⃣ #IHSA Class 6⃣A Football State Championship over runner-up East St. Louis!!!— Illinois High School Association #IHSA (@IHSA_IL) November 25, 2023
⭐️ Cary-Grove | Logan Abrams | 31 car, 87 yards, 2 TD
⭐️ East St. Louis | Larevious Woods | 17 car, 98 yards, 2 TD,
🔗Box Score▶️ https://t.co/oLh89UAMnv pic.twitter.com/O9XSZlMAPK
Pursuit of Continued Progress
While Cary Grove has built an impressive weightlifting program across physical education and athletics, they are always in pursuit of continued progress and improvement. Mike explains how they are pushing for even more teams and athletes to make weightlifting a part of their yearly routine and schedule,
“We have made a ton of progress in the world of weightlifting over the last five years. But we know there are always things we can tweak and adjust to keep supporting our students and athletes.”
In addition, Mike explains how Cary Grove is looking at new ways they can use PLT4M both in weights classes and beyond,
“The videos and materials are excellent teaching resources for weightlifting, but now other units as well. So as PLT4M continues to evolve and update, we can keep looking at ways to reach as many students as possible.”
Cary Grove High School has shown the power of a coordinated approach to weight training across physical education and athletics. Be on the lookout for more headlines to come from this Illinois school!
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