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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Lady Bulldogs Embracing Fitness and Hoops Camp

The old saying of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is ringing true for the Kenmore East Lady Bulldogs basketball team this summer.

While open gyms and summer league action is pretty standard stuff for high school basketball teams, the Lady Bulldogs are going beyond the norm as they have installed a Fitness and Hoops camp geared towards injury prevention.

The camp was born out of necessity after the Lady Bulldogs lost more man games to injury than any other girls basketball team in the Niagara Frontier League last season.

Recently graduated Sarah Burhans and rising senior Lyndsay O’Brien both lost the entire season due to ACL injuries that were sustained during the soccer season. While other players lost a portion of the season due to other injuries.

“The idea is we need to teach the girls how to prevent,

preventable injuries. Some of them are not preventable,” said Ken-East athletic trainer Stephanie Swartzwelder, who created the program.

“Teaching the girls how to jump, land. Control their power so that we can prevent those ‘preventable’ injuries. And at least make it less likely that our girls are going to be falling out either before or during the season due to injury.”

Meeting every Tuesday and Thursday, the 90 minute sessions are split between the gym and the fitness room. The drills and exercises focus on muscles and movement that are used most frequently in basketball, as well as promoting overall wellness and injury prevention.

“There are common movement faults that girls have that guys don’t have as much as, but its common among all young athletes,” Swartzwelder said. “So it’s just kind of teaching them the same movements and how to do them correctly so that when they are transferring over to their basketball skills they’re not setting themselves up for injury.”

From medicine ball drills that copy the motion of taking a jump shot to band lateral walks to ball handling drills. Every step is carefully thought out and every movement serves a purpose.

Lady Bulldogs coach Les Simon said that after seeing the heartbreak on the faces of his girls who could not play and the way injuries drained their roster he would absolutely be open to anything that would promote long term wellness for his girls.

“We were plagued with injuries pretty much from day one right through the sectionals,” said Simon.

“Some we inherited from the fall, some happened on my watch. Her program will get us fitter. We all have off season goals, injury prevention when November rolls around is mine this summer.”

Having to sit all of last season O’Brien, perhaps more than any other girl on the team, is embracing the benefits of this camp.

“I’m really happy that we developed something like this where girls, not even just for myself, but other girls can learn how to prevent bad injuries like torn ACL’s or anything serious like that,” O’Brien said before Tuesday’s session. “Building muscle is such an important thing and sometimes it’s over looked. With just practicing we don’t always muscle train. So if you ask me muscle training is one of the most important components you can add to training to get ready for a season. Personally, for me, I’m super excited about it because I know it’s going to help me bounce back by building the correct muscle that I need to.”

O’Brien added that taking part in such an interactive off season training session is helping the team grow closer before the season officially begins.

Swartzwelder also spoke to the girls frankly about the importance of taking part in the camp because of the proven medical fact that females are more prone to things like knee injuries.

“I tell the girls straight up. You are female,” she said. “You have the hormones. We have the bio-mechanical disadvantage of wide hips and narrow knees that boys don’t (have). So you’re going to have to work that much harder to be safe.”

Seeing solid attendance through the first three sessions, Simon feels the biggest reason why this is working is because of Swartzwelder herself. Just completing her third school year at Kenmore East the girls see Stephanie as family. Someone they can trust because she knows their medical history. And, most importantly, she knows them as people. She isn’t a stranger selling a one-size fits all method of training. She is a person who truly cares about their continued health long after they have walked away from high school sports.

“Stephanie is a natural resource,” said Simon. “She’s worked with our kids so closely.”

O’Brien has taken the lead when it comes to reaching out to girls in the program on the importance of attending this program.

“Anything we can do to prevent us from getting hurt this season, because last season we had a lot of injuries,” O’Brien said. “So this season it’s really important that we try to stay healthy. And that’s gonna start with this program.”

Feature Photo Courtesy of Dan Cappellazzo

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