Youth sports and strength training program were the main topics of discussion at the Dakota Valley School Board meeting Monday night, Dec. 14. Many coaches showed their support of continuing the strength program despite CNOS enacting their 30-day cancellation of contract clause, terminating the program as of Dec. 31.

Head football coach Jeff VanDenHul said the program is nice to have because the student athletes are coming into the school during the summer to work on their conditioning, even in the off-season. As a parent, he knows when his children are going to the school to work out, they’re safe, they’re spending more time at the school and they’re being taught the proper techniques in the weight room.

“I can’t think of a better place for kids to be than to be at school extra hours every week,” VanDenHul said. “... it’s nice having a set program because the workouts are set up for us, our athletes know what they need to do and if they don’t know what they need to be doing, they are taught how to do it and shown. Assistance is always available for our athletes and our coaches when we’re not sure what’s happening in the weight room at that point in time.”

Head girls basketball coach Tammy Lilly said that this program is so important to the students because, even going from sport to sport, the conditioning is similar; it’s not being switched between coaches. She stated that this program helps improve overall athletic performance, helps athletes with injury prevention and is a huge benefit to their overall sports program.

“The culture in the weight room is super positive,” Lilly said. “We have kids who are athletes and kids who are students, but not part of any activity outside of school that benefit from being in the weight room before school, after school, maybe at times that wouldn’t be available if we lose this program.”

Head volleyball coach Mary Miller said if they lose Cody [Sexton, strength and conditioning coach], they lose a valuable asset to Dakota Valley’s athletic program.

“I have a daughter and her perspective was, ‘We need Cody. He’s got that expertise; he knows how to specialize us for volleyball versus basketball. He knows how to run that weight room.’

“I’ve done this a long time – coaching,” Miller continued. “I’ve been my own strength and conditioning coach at both the high school and college level and to not to have to worry about that it’s just a lift off your shoulders and when we got someone as knowledgable as Cody taking care of us, it would be just a travesty if we would lose him.”

Dakota Valley Activities Director Bill Clements gave the board a brief background on how the program came to the district. He stated that with this program, students (athletes or non-athletes) can train year-round and there is one person in charge of all the training instead of jumping from coach to coach in each sport. This summer, over 200 students utilized the weight room, training themselves and conditioning for their sports outside of the season.

“Having a strength coach to run our programs, it’s allowed us to take and be consistent through all of the different programs,” Clements said. “Where before the coaches ran their own programs. Well, what happened is one coach would base it [strength and conditioning] off of the knowledge he had from growing up and then would run his program. Then all of the sudden we switch seasons and have another coach for the other program and we didn’t have consistency throughout the whole course of the year.”

Before moving into executive session for contractual matters, Dr. Jerry Rasmussen instructed the board what they had to decide. First, does the school staff the position on their own and hire a full-time strength coach? Second, do they partner with another company as they had with CNOS? Third, do they cut the program and have coaches in charge of strength and conditioning for their own sports?

See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.