OTTUMWA — Starting Wednesday, Ottumwa athletes in grades 7-12 are invited to participate in summer weight lifting.

Students will register on the first day and are required to wear masks during their sessions. Every athlete will receive Muscle Milk and a free lunch after each workout.

Students and parents will notice several changes to the 2020 summer schedule. Ottumwa hired Luke Goemaat as the new Strength and Conditioning coach. Goemaat will lead this effort for middle and high school athletes on a part-time basis, including summer and before and after school.

Among the changes under Goemaat will include individualized workouts for athletes during their physical education class. With approximately 400 student athletes in the district, Goemaat plans to be very busy.

“I plan to run the program like a college program with a philosophy of year-round training,” said Goemaat, who served as a strength coach after graduating from Simpson College with a degree in exercise science. “It will be individualized to meet the unique demands of the individual sports students play.”

There will also be a strong emphasis on technique for students in grades 7-9. Seven assistant strength coaches will assist during the summer program. The district will also offer a weight lifting class at Evans Middle School for the 2020-21 school year.

Coaches also donated funds to purchase Team Builder, an online strength and conditioning software program used by several schools in the Central Iowa Metropolitan League as well.

The program will allow Goemaat to track progress on each individual athlete, allowing him to make adjustments to their training to ensure they are in the best condition possible. In the future, Goemaat also plans to talk to students about nutrition and sleep to ensure athletes understand how all of these things contribute to performance.

The goal is for athletes to help athletes be in the best shape for their unique sport while reducing injuries. The summer program will run through Friday, Aug. 21 and is free to all students. Students who participate in football and volleyball will end on Aug. 10.

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