South Bend high schools improve strength training for football


SOUTH CURVE — St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend never had a strength coach until Mike Simon was hired part-time last year to work with all the school sports teams.

Prior to arriving in South Bend from working on the East Coast, Simon described Saint Joe’s bodybuilding state as “Helter Skelter”.

“The school really needed guidance,” Simon said. “Physical education teachers needed guidance and coaches needed guidance on how they should schedule and use the weight room the right way.”

Simon’s first steps were to throw away old equipment and revamp the Saint Joe weight room. Over the past year, Simon said there’s been more of a “skeletal” idea of ​​how the school wants to organize the weight room and strength training to make it an actual program.

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Simon has been working in the strength and conditioning field for 17 years after earning his master’s degree in kinesiology and exercise. He knows the importance of strength training to the success of a program and sees that schools in the South Bend area are beginning to catch up.

“More and more high schools are starting to realize and understand,” he explained, “that the only way to compete is to hire a strength coach and get more expertise in that area. .”

Some have taken this approach, including South Bend Riley, which hired “Speed ​​is Key Performance” founder Kyle Edwards as a strength, conditioning and sprint coach. South Bend Adams hired Tony Chelminiak around the same time as new football coach Frank Karczewski to oversee the school’s weight room and programs.

Riley also made a recent $200,000 investment to upgrade his weight room and grew his weightlifting class from over 40 student-athletes to 275 because new head football coach Darrick Lee understands the importance .

“It teaches discipline, committing to something and it’s not about instant success,” Lee said. “It takes time to get stronger, for things to change. Having a commitment to the weight room makes a huge change, changes you as an individual and makes you a better individual in my opinion, to have that patience.”

The South Bend Community School Corp. could not confirm the date of the last renovation of its three other secondary schools – Washington, Clay and Adams – in time for publication.

Riley's head coach, Darrick Lee Jr., on the sidelines during the South Bend Adams-South Bend Riley High School football game, Friday, Sept. 02, 2022, at Jackson Field in South Bend, Indiana.

When Lee was a player at South Bend Washington, former head coach Antwon Jones and his coaching staff were ahead of their time in promoting the importance of the weight room. Lee said Jones, now an assistant coach at Penn, took the old wrestling hall and pushed to make sure the football program had all the equipment it needed.

Jones changed the thinking of the program from a classic “bigger, faster, stronger” approach to percentages and moving more weight at a faster rate to generate more speed, power and control.

“At that time, a lot of schools weren’t doing that,” Lee said. “It was just about getting big and bulky, and he was trying to implement a program that would make us fast, strong, and explosive athletes. That’s what a lot of people are looking at now.”

Adams head coach Frank Karczewski on the sidelines during the South Bend Adams-South Bend Riley High School Football game on Friday, September 02, 2022, at Jackson Field in South Bend, Indiana.

Karczewski, a former Adams quarterback, learned that firsthand after coaching at Indianapolis Cathedral, the state’s powerhouse, for the past few years.

“Over the last decade, teams that wanted to be good have focused on it,” Karczewski said of bodybuilding. “In the early 2000s the weight room mattered, but teams didn’t do it every day. Now pretty much statewide, probably nationally as well, any legitimate program has her kids in the weight room lifting every day of the school year.

“It took us a little while to catch up, but we added that here at Adams and have a lot of our football kids in the weight room before school.”

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During his playing days, Karczewski said players need to take lifting sessions on themselves and work that time into training schedules before the team hits the pitch, leaving less time for training. ‘coaching. Now, with Karczewski pushing for team lifting sessions before school or during kids’ schedules through weightlifting classes, the Eagles may have more practice time.

As Karczewski and Lee continue to shape their programs, continuing to advance their weightlifting programs is the expectation. Where it starts is with the growing participation of student-athletes and the importance of the weight room to make it a full-time part of the program.

“Good teams, good players, you’re expected to be in the weight room on your school day,” Karczewski said. “You want to be a good player, a good team, it has to be part of what you do.”

High School Football Schedule


September 9

South Bend Adams at South Bend St. Joseph, 7 p.m.

South Bend Clay at South Bend Riley, 7 p.m.

Elkhart at South Bend Washington, 7 p.m.

Jimtown at John Glenn, 7 p.m.

Penn at Cincinnati St. Xavier, 7 p.m.

Triton in Bremen, 7 p.m.

Mishawaka at Goshen, 7 p.m.

NorthWood at Northridge, 7 p.m.

Warsaw at Concord, 7 p.m.

Wawasee at Plymouth, 7 p.m.

Southport at Fairfield, 7 p.m.

New Prairie at Mishawaka Marian, 7:30 p.m.

LaVille at Winamac, 7:30 p.m.

Chesterton at LaPorte, 8 p.m.

Valparaiso at Michigan City, 8 p.m.

Saturday September 10

Phalen Leadership Academy at Osceola Grace, 3 p.m.


Friday, September 9

Brandywine at Saugatuck, 7 p.m.

Buchanan at Dowagiac, 7 p.m.

Cassopolis at Comstock, 7 p.m.

Niles at Edwardsburg, 7 p.m.

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Richard V. Johnson