In the world of high school education, everyone is busy! Teachers, coaches, and administrators are all trying to stay up to speed with the ever-changing landscape of a typical school year. And that was the ‘typical’ expectation before Covid only accelerated educators’ need to make quick and effective decisions.
And with fast-paced decisions, it is easy to operate in silos. Does the football team want to provide at-home workout programs for their athletes? The football coaches go out and find a solution. Does the PE department need to continue its fitness curriculum for students at home? They go out and find a resource to fit their needs.
When the dust settles, schools often realize that they possibly lost some easy ways to collaborate across the different departments or groups. They even more likely spent more time, energy, and money than needed.
At large schools like Cary Grove High School in Illinois, possible silos are always a potential when you have a student body of over 1,600 students. However, Cary Grove is mindful of their blindspots and has administrators, teachers, and coaches working together to ensure their entire student body is supported with the best experience a high school education can offer.
When Covid hit, and everyone was looking to keep students physically active, Ryan Ludwig, Football Coach and Dean Of Students, wanted to act fast.
After evaluating his options, Ryan went with PLT4M, a fitness and strength and conditioning program that could keep his team training at home.
“We took the Remote Athletic Development program, made some slight modifications, and pushed it right out to our kids via the app.”
With a large football team, the coaches decided to break the team up into groups and host smaller sections as they completed their online workouts. With the team working hard in the off-season, the coaches were thrilled with the workouts in PLT4M they could modify without ‘reinventing the wheel.’
Spread The Word
While Ryan was the first to give PLT4M a try with his team, it wasn’t long before he knew this was a program worth sharing with others in the school.
“As an Assistant AD and being close with our other coaches, I knew this was something I needed to pull everyone in on. There was something in PLT4M for everyone.”
Other coaches quickly signed up and saw the potential within PLT4M. Not only did the coaches embrace this new program, the Physical Education department, headed by Mike Manning, saw this as an opportunity for their PE students within the school as well.
“Mike and I are always bouncing different ideas off of each other. I think we all thought that the opportunity for this to get rolled out across the entire school had some serious potential.”
What first began as a quick fix for the football team in the spring has now grown to over 1500 students across Athletics and Physical Education, having access to PLT4M this fall.
And while the different groups are all adopting a similar overarching program in PLT4M, coaches and teachers at Cary Grove have the flexibility to adapt and modify to fit their unique needs and situations that Covid protocols are throwing their way.
With Illinois state rules allowing fall sports 20 ‘contact days,’ the football team has been able to get their students back on the field safely. With their limited field time, they have also been able to get back into the weight room twice a week.
The students are required to wear masks, diligently clean and wipe down equipment, and space out into two groups that are either tasked with the A or B workout that Cary Grove has built in the PLT4M app.
“It has been a seamless transition because the kids are already comfortable with navigating the app. Because we are on a tight time window, it has been nice to have them log in and get right to work.”
And while Cary Grove football would love to be in the weight room and work out more than twice a week, they can still lean on the team’s remote programming options to do at home. While it is still an altered version of a typical football season, Ryan is proud of what the team has made of this unique situation.
Much like football, other sports are starting to get back onto the field in some capacity. And because practice times vary, and coaches and athletes are juggling many different schedules, most teams have opted to keep their strength and conditioning online.
“Overall, the other coaches have had really good things to say, and it is nice we are all able to pull from what makes the most sense for our different groups. Other teams can start to think about getting back into the weight room when it makes sense, but don’t have to rush.”
Between the different bodyweight and limited equipment programs that teams can still tap into, they have plenty of options available. And with things starting to settle in, other sports teams and athletes have been able to get back to the weight room throughout the fall!
And with Physical Education relying heavily on remote learning, they have been tapping into various programs at their disposal.
From using PLT4M’s Introductory Programs, Mastering Mobility, and more, Cary Grove PE has also not had to ‘reinvent the wheel.’ Instead, they are benefiting from the scaling and flexibility that lives within the Physical Education program offerings.
When asked, Mike Manning was also happy to report back on the results in PE.
“PLT4M came to us at a wonderful time and allowed us to make the most of a tough situation.
Since we were forced to jump in with both feet due to the pandemic, we are realizing the potential of the program. Once things get back to “normal” we are very excited for the opportunities it will provide not only our PE students but our athletes in the weight room.”
Taking Action For Students
While these quick snapshots only scratch the surface of the robust offerings coaches and teachers are facilitating at Cary Grove, the themes of success are consistent throughout.
Administrators, teachers, and coaches collaborated and worked to find something that would benefit everyone. Not only that, they looked at the resources available and got creative when necessary to align with the goals they had.
Cary Grove demonstrates the power of asking how they can take action and make the most out of a challenge, rather than poking holes and seeking reasons why it won’t work.
And while the landscape can and will continue to change throughout the school year, Cary Grove is ready for whatever twist, or turn might come.