Summer program pumps up Bobcat athletes
Many of the Basehor-Linwood High School athletic programs became forces to be reckoned with both in the Kaw Valley League and on the state level during the past two years.
Not coincidentally, that success has taken place since Ross Schwisow became the BLHS strength and conditioning coach in 2006.
In-season and out-of-season training programs became more refined and, most important, were utilized by more athletes.
The results speak for themselves: Back-to-back boys basketball league championships, a state tournament berth in girls basketball and a berth in the Class 4A football state playoffs last fall are among the accomplishments that Schwisow's conditioning programs are at least partially responsible for.
There also was the state championship that the BLHS girls powerlifting team won in March and the runner-up finish by the boys.
Schwisow said the school's successes of the past have motivated the athletes of the present and future to work harder.
"It really helps," he said. "So many kids have gotten involved and invested time to work with us, with this program, to get better, and now the other kids come in and see that those are the steps you need to take. What it's done is create a really competitive environment where the younger kids see that they need to work even harder to get to where the older kids are now."
That competitive environment has been as active as ever this summer. With the graduation of a senior class that's sending about 25 athletes onto college rosters, there are big shoes to be filled at BLHS. As a result, the summer program started earlier than usual, May 27, and has operated full speed ahead. It lasted every Monday through Thursday in June. Athletes then took a week off in early July to recover before plunging back in for a rigorous finish to the summer.
Schwisow offered five sessions throughout the day to make it convenient for any BLHS student who wanted to work out to find time to be in the gym. Each 90-minute session features an hour of lifting and 30 minutes of running. The earliest session starts at 6 a.m. The evening session lasts from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Schwisow said Jared Furman also helped run the program.
The program consists primarily of BLHS athletes, although some former athletes participate, too. Middle school students are invited to participate on Monday and Wednesday nights, although Schwisow said the emphasis with them is on "basics of movement, how to run, basic agility," rather than weight lifting.
What impresses Schwisow the most, however, is that about 15 to 20 percent of those participating in the summer program are not athletes.
"They're just there trying to get some fitness and work in an environment where they're going to be challenged and pushed," Schwisow said. "Our athletes accept them and help them and push them, and a lot of times I think it makes our athletes want to work harder."
On any given day Schwisow said he sees as many as 230 athletes making time to participate in the program. Fifty of them he said have not missed a day all summer, he said.
Schwisow began running athletes through final testing this week and on Friday he will conduct the annual Beast Feast cookout at the school to honor those who made at least 80 percent of the summer sessions.
"We like to use the beast moniker," Schwisow said. "They've worked hard all summer. They've invested a lot more than a lot of kids at other schools and they should be proud of that."