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More than 200 athletes dedicated to Jays' BAD training program

There are 230 Jamestown High School athletes participating in the summer BAD training program.

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Payton Hochhalter grimaces as he lifts 165 lbs during a hang full clean exercise. Many student athletes participate in the 2022 Summer Strength & Conditioning at Jamestown High School.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — Bill Nelson walked over to the stereo in the Jamestown High School weight room, cranked up the volume, then turned and surveyed his classroom crowded with 31 athletes.

With a huge smile the head Jamestown High School strength and conditioning coach said:

"Seriously Katie, does it get any better than this?"

Nelson and Jamestown High School athletic trainer, Nolan Love, are dedicating eight weeks of their summers to the Blue Jay Athletic Development (BAD) program, where athletes from all 22 sports come to JHS to work on their strength, flexibility, agility, speed and injury prevention.

"This is my classroom," Nelson said. "I get to go and work with kids and even though there are some really long days, it's never work."

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"When I feel like I have to go to work, then it's time to find something new but right now — I love it."

The BAD program began May 31 and will run through July 28. The program runs Monday through Thursday each week from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each session lasts between 50 and 55 minutes.

There are 230 athletes participating this summer, which is one of the top numbers Nelson said he's seen in his 11 years at the helm of the program.

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BAD22 is in a summer school class format, where there will be 1/4 credit going to physical education electives for high school student-athletes. If high school students decide to take the class for credit, the entire program is free. If a student-athlete does not want to take the course for credit, the cost of the high school camp is $50 dollars.

For those in middle school there is a fee of $30 to participate in the program. There is no credit offered to the middle school students.

Nelson said the Blue Jays offer weightlifting all year round but that there is an uptick in numbers in the summer due to teams being out of season.

Nelson said he used to run the middle school sessions three days per week, but then last summer he decided to ramp it up to four days and attendance improved dramatically.

"No day is ever long because every group is different," Nelson said. "The 11 a.m. group is the smallest of the day and they've got some juice there.

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"The last group of the day comes in and they are excited to work out and it's like, all right, let's have some fun. I've been doing this for 24 years but what we do now looks a lot different than it did back then. We're constantly growing and evolving."

One of the ways the camp has been adjusted this summer compared to past sessions in the implementation of Speed School three days a week, where athletes will be challenged in regards to their speed and agility.

Speed School occurs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 to 7:55 a.m. on Erstad Field. In the case of inclement weather, Speed School is held in Jerry Meyer Arena. Nelson said the program averages 50 participants all three days and have seen more than 150 different student-athletes at least once so far this summer.

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The 2022 Summer Strength and Conditioning program is open to male and female athletes in both middle and high schools. Addison Marker, left, lifts 85 lbs, while Lexi Kirkeby works with 115 lbs in a hang full clean exercise.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Students are not required to participate in Speed School, regardless if they are participating in the program for credit or not.

"It's grown quite a bit from the first summer that I got here," Nelson said. "(Back then) they had a couple handfuls of kids who were doing some stuff but it was kind of an on-your-own thing."

Student-athletes who are participating in the program for credit will be allowed two absences that will not count against their grade. If athletes end up missing more time, Nelson said they are able to come to the high school Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. to make up the missed session.

The evening sessions are also available to those athletes who want to double down and get in more than one lifting session per day.

"It's always going to be about the kids but they have to be accountable, they have to show up on time, they have to want to walk up the stairs and they have to be coachable," Nelson said. "No and can't are two words that we don't use, sometimes we have to make modifications but we always find a way."

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Nelson has had to make modifications for program participants who have tweaked something at a former training session or in a summer sport. The head strength coach also takes into account the athletes' limitations and whether or not they are playing a summer sport.

"If someone is doing something wrong, we want to correct them," Nelson said. "Safety is our top priority. Is every rep perfect? No but, we're preaching, and preaching and preaching and over time it starts to click."

Having another set of eyes never hurts either.

Love has been around the BAD program for the past 11 years, when he started out as a high school freshman.

"He was a student-athlete of mine," Nelson said of Love. "We've changed a lot since he came through but it's still the same philosophy.

"It's so nice to have him because he loves this room as much as I do but he asks the questions and has good ideas. It's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Having more eyes always helps."

On days when Nelson is in charge of monitoring the weightroom, Love is out in the hallway or on the track where he oversees chinups, holds, warm-ups and alike.

"I'm a strong believer that when we compete in sports, our bodies get tired and weak and so we need to be strong in order to protect them," Love said. "What we do in here is helpful for a lot of athletes."

"They understand that we're not here to yell at them but that we know what we're doing and we're having fun," Love said. "We're passionate about this and the older these kids get, the better they get."

Love said that he would encourage athletes to participate because the stress the bodies undergo in the weight room prepares bodies for work out on the field and nothing bends, breaks or tears during the sports season.

So it all works in tandem.

"I tell them that if they are spending more than an hour in a weightroom, you are wasting time," Nelson said. "We are always working within a rotation because one exercise doesn't effect the other exercises — they work together."

Nelson said the BAD program advises against maximum weight lifts, but instead focuses on training moderately with correct form in order to improve endurance while also building up explosiveness and power — which is essential for every athlete no matter the sport.

"We're not going to get complacent or say this is the way it is — we're going to keep growing and getting better every day so that we can improve," Nelson said. "This is fun — we're here to have fun."

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Many student athletes participate in the 2022 Summer Strength and Conditioning Camp at Jamestown High School.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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