South Tahoe football joins CrossFit after losing weight program
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Incoming freshmen Dillon Lemons and Bryce Curtis pounded on a giant tire with sledgehammers while teammates pushed metal sleds across the parking lot behind South Shore Bikes. On the road next to the two, who were part of a larger group doing the same workout, nearly a dozen other South Tahoe athletes were sprinting back to South Tahoe CrossFit.
The South Tahoe High School Football team has set up camp at the gym located near the “Y” intersection after construction at the school left the team without a weight room for the second consecutive year.
“Last summer they did the re-modifications to the gym and the weight room, and so we got displaced last summer. And this summer, I guess with the new sports medicine building, they had to do some additional work in the weight room, because of snow load or something, so basically we got displaced again,” South Tahoe football coach Kevin Hennessee said. “Dr. (Jim) Tarwater and (Lake Tahoe Unified School District facilities director, Steve) Morales both thought instead of moving all the weights again, which they had to do last year, we could spend that money that would cost to move everything and bring us here.”
This year the construction of the sports medicine academy building resulted in having to tear down the outside wall of the weight room. Last year the team lifted behind the auto shop because the Gold and Blue Gyms were being renovated, which led to a poor turnout in the summer lifting program and struggles during the season according to Hennessee. He said a bad offseason will have a negative effect on the regular season.
“Big time, because you don’t have any strength. There’s no strength, there’s no continuity, there’s no endurance – I mean nothing. We’re going to be going into the season this year, I think much stronger, much more flexible and in much better shape,” he said.
Senior linebacker and tight end Cale Backinger agreed with his coach.
“Some of us were strong (last season), but you could definitely see the weaker ones, what held us back,” he said. “Now, with our whole team showing up – I mean, we got a good solid 15 guys showing up for varsity, 20 for freshman – we’re getting up in the 40 numbers for all of this and I think we’re really going to have a strong backbone this year. Our strength and our conditioning is going to be up, so we’re going to be able to finish in that fourth quarter.”
The team performs a variety of workouts including pullups, vertical leaps, squats, sprints and deadlifts. Hennessee said it has also been a great team-builder.
“CrossFit for us, I thought this was a perfect fit for us because it’s a lot of kids, it’s certainly not something you want in an athletic club, in terms of suddenly we’re going to swarm in for an hour and a half, and these guys have designated our own time, so we’re here 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. by ourselves,” Hennessee said. “There’s a lot of excitement, there’s a lot of yelling, a lot of team building. The team building is really good, so it’s just been a blessing. We couldn’t recreate what this is, (what’s) happening here in our weight room. Our weight room is too small. I don’t know if it is just different or new or the fact we have trainers, but we’re getting more kids than we would ever get in our weight room at school.”
“Well, one of the things coach Hennessee mentioned was, because we have smaller teams, not as many members, our guys were kind of wearing out in the third and fourth quarter,” said Tim Anderson, partner and trainer at South Tahoe CrossFit. “CrossFit is all about building stamina, endurance, strength, power; so we just thought it would be great to have these guys come in here and build up their endurance. Also, as far as team building, you just can’t beat CrossFit. It’s all about working in groups and working together. So it’s a great combination.”
Anderson used to teach social studies at South Tahoe High School, but left the school three years ago and opened the CrossFit gym. When he left, he suggested the football team workout at the gym, which finally happened.
“It just worked out this year, they needed a place to work out, and a couple of their assistant coaches have been doing CrossFit and it just worked out that we got the high school football team doing a six-week camp here. It’s pretty awesome,” Anderson said. “It’s pretty amazing how much you can do. Six weeks is about an introductory course at CrossFit, and if you come and you do this, these guys are coming about four days a week, you come and you do it you will definitely see results.
“These guys have seen huge improvements already. This is the end of the third week. What’s really cool is that they’re a lot more confident coming in here, it’s the team cohesion. You just can’t come in here and do what we do and not get stronger, faster and in better condition.”
The camp is not just for football players, though a majority of attendees are. Hennessee said athletes from all sports at the high school are encouraged to come.
“It’s not just for football kids. I was approaching every kid I could at the end of school and saying, ‘Come do the CrossFit with us. Come do the CrossFit with us. Come on with us. Come, come, come, come. You don’t have to play football.’ So we were trying to get as many different sport kids as we could, because it’s only going to make the school better. It’s going to make all the programs better,” he said. “There are two or three kids that have taken us up on that, that are maybe just going to be a basketball player, they’re going to be freshman, so it is what it is, but we’ve definitely tried to get other teams come and be apart of it.”
For Backinger, he is excited about CrossFit and how it will help come September.
“I love it. The school is doing this for us, just the commitment from the community to be behind us and just our boys are putting in work. I love to see all these guys come out here, especially the freshman. I love the young group showing up, they have like a whole team out here,” the senior said. “We’re going to be able to push more. Our line is going to be way better this year. They’re just going to be shoving guys around. I’m going to be able to hit harder. We’re just going to be all over the field. I mean last year, we would just get into the second half and just, you know, it would not be very pretty. I think this year we’re gonna have to be there and I think with this CrossFit going on we’ll be there for sure.”
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