At first glance, the varsity weight room in the basement of the Glenbrook Gymnasium complex looks like business as usual these days. But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice just how different it has been for the athletes and strength coaches.
You’ll notice everyone in the room has a mask on, or you’ll see the strength coaches spraying every surface with cleaner. You’ll also notice a smaller group of athletes compared to previous years.
Every athlete must properly wear a mask in the weight room these days. Head strength coach Wes Landon has been very strict about this rule because of how many athletes go in and out of that space.
“Besides the cafeteria, I typically see more humans than any other place on campus,” he said.
Properly wearing a mask was just one of the guidelines. Another is the limited number of athletes who can be in the gym at a time. Typically, full teams lift together but now teams are split into groups.
There is a 12- to 15-person cap allowed in the weight room. This has made scheduling a difficult process for Landon. It can also have an effect on the dynamics of the team, coaches say.
Landon talks about how splitting the teams into groups can mess “with the gel of the team.”
“Most of the connections happen in the weight room,” said Kylie Mackie, a strength and conditioning graduate assistant.
Mackie was also a four-year member of the varsity alpine ski team.
But strength and conditioning graduate assistant Jacob Erwin said he hasn’t minded the number restrictions.
“It’s almost been better. You get one team and you can focus on that one team. You don’t have to worry so much about having multiple teams,” he said.
The smaller groups in the weight room help limit the exposer teams have to other teams. But even with the smaller groups, the varsity weight room still sees every varsity athlete.
“With COVID … with all the protocols we have to follow and my schedule, we can fit 700 people in there each week,” Landon said.
The priority has been the safety of the athletes, which means that the strength coaches now sanitize every surface after every team has lifted.
“After every single session, we spray the entire gym down. We go through like three spray bottles, at least, of cleaner a day,” Mackie said.
A junior on the women’s soccer team, Alex Benfatti,
likes that aspect of the COVID changes.
“It’s kind of nice that it’s always clean now,” she said.
“I see Wes or Kylie or Jacob sanitize everything after every workout … They do a good job at making sure everything we touched was sprayed and they do that multiple times a day, so I feel like it is safe for us,” said Ryanne Mix, a junior on the women’s ice hockey team.
With all the changes due to COVID, the strength and conditioning coaches are doing what they can to keep the varsity athletes in shape for whatever type of season they have.
“Not all teams have played games this year and whatever I can do to help them play games I will do,” Landon said.