School Pride Stems From Strength And Conditioning

Athletes working out in the Le Mars weight room.

Walking into Le Mars Community High School in Iowa, you can sense the pride and spirit emanating through the halls. The students, staff, and community all embrace what it means to be Le Mars Bulldogs. And while much of the spirit shines brightly under the Friday night lights and the school’s other various sports competitions, much of the school’s pride starts inside the walls of the weight room.


Le Mars Community High School student-athletes and coaches have rallied around the strength and conditioning program as a place to build community and create a competitive culture. As a result, student-athletes and coaches are building a sense of great pride stemming from the weight room and the strength and conditioning program.

A Shared Mission Of Strength And Conditioning


Over the years, Le Mars has made it a mission to help student-athletes get into the weight room to improve athletic performance. Strength coach, sport coach, and PE teacher Tyler Phelan says that the focus of Le Mars strength and conditioning program has always been about total athletic development,


“Like many schools of our size (600 students in the high school), a large percentage of athletes are multi-sport athletes. Our goal is to be bigger, faster, stronger so that athletes can be multi-functional across all the different sports they compete in throughout the year.”


The coaches and staff at Le Mars don’t just hope for student-athletes to embrace this mission, but they embody it. Tyler cites fellow coaches like Ken Vigdal, Caleb Van Otterloo, Kurt Van Kley, Cody Dyhrkopp, and many others who have all embraced the importance of taking a unified approach in the weight room,


“It has been a true team effort from our coaches and admins to get more athletes into the weight room throughout the years. As a result of our continued growth, we have upwards of 100 student-athletes cycling through the weight room on any given day.”

Consistency Is Key For Le Mars


The word consistency is frequently used within the Le Mars sport programs, and expectations are the same in the weight room. First, Tyler says that the goal is to get student-athletes into the weight room not just during the school year but in the summer as well,


“Our athletes put in a lot of hard work throughout the school year. So, as we hit the summer months, we want to avoid a large gap in training. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of our summer training program so that student-athletes can see the benefits of consistency and year-round strength and conditioning. We see our track, basketball, and football coaches working with all of our athletes and supporting their best efforts.”


Beyond just showing up to the weight room, the Le Mars coaches have also put together a plan that creates a consistent approach to training across all the student-athletes and teams. Le Mars takes an in-season and off-season approach, regardless of sports, so that every student-athlete can develop functional and foundational skills within the weight room.

A Look Inside The Le Mars Weight Room


With all the pieces in place, Tyler explains how the Le Mars strength and conditioning program is an ever-evolving process,


“We are always working to ensure that the strength and conditioning program is not only getting students into the weight room but also helping them to be the best possible versions of themselves.”


For example, the Le Mars coaches aren’t the only ones leading the charge in the weight room. Within the weight room, younger athletes are paired with older athletes to get additional support and feedback while they are in the gym. In addition, Tyler explains how Le Mars makes it a point to celebrate success through fun interactive leaderboards,


“Our track team started by posting their flying times, then our football team introduced leaderboards by different groups and grade levels so that when athletes hit a personal best, they have a chance to put their name card onto the leaderboard inside the weight room.”

Connecting All The Pieces With PLT4M


In addition to all the great things happening at Le Mars Community High School, the school has also implemented PLT4M as its go-to for delivering workouts and tracking progress. While the school had used other strength and conditioning apps in the past, Tyler says that PLT4M has been an excellent addition to the program,


“The biggest benefit of using PLT4M is that students have everything right at their fingertips. It has made our workouts more efficient and effective because athletes have everything from personalized weights to quick demo videos all within a workout.”


As a result, Tyler says that the coaches can spend more time doing what they love,


“It lets us interact and connect with the student-athletes at a higher level. All the little things that used to bog us down are now gone, which means we can really coach and build relationships with the athletes.”  

image oh student squatting and a phone with graph

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Key Takeaways On Le Mars Strength and Conditioning


Le Mars coaches and athletes have a lot to be proud of when it comes to the strength and conditioning program. While they have made a lot of progress both in participation and tracking numbers, Tyler says that the plan is to keep looking forward,


“It takes time, energy, and hard work from everyone involved, coaches and athletes, to keep building on what we have started at Le Mars. As we look forward, we have even bigger aspirations to keep the program growing.”


Last year, Tyler started incorporating weightlifting into part of the school year during physical education classes, hoping to get even more students involved in the program. In addition, Head Football Coach Ken Vigdal and High School Principal Mark Iverson encouraged the staff to update its weight room to better support the growing numbers of students coming to train.


Altogether, Le Mars showcases how a small high school can make a big difference with student-athletes through a strength and conditioning program. From seeing progress in core lifts to connecting with teammates and classmates, the weight room builds community, culture, school pride, and much more. Stay tuned for more great things to come from the Le Mars Bulldogs!

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