By Savannah Swix
Entirely East Lansing
On March 18, the East Lansing High School Athletic Department announced its partnership with Michigan State University’s Spartan Performance.
East Lansing High School Athletic Director Tom Hunt said the partnership aims to help athletes realize the bigger picture of athletic performance and health.
“It was our desire here to have a more systematic approach to conditioning and training, incorporate nutrition and sports psychology,” said Hunt. “We’re not just getting the biceps and the muscles, we’re getting the whole athlete to perform at a high level, the highest level that they can.”
Spartan Performance is a training and athletic research organization that educates athletes about nutrition, how to avoid injury and improve their game.
“Our mission is to provide young athletes in the mid-Michigan community with services related to testing, training, sports nutrition and sports psychology,” said Joey Eisenmann, director of Spartan Performance.
Spartan Performance is affiliated with other Michigan State University organizations like SportsMEDICINE and Rehabilitation.
“The idea is to provide a one-stop shop, if you will, for young athletes in the community,” said Eisenmann. “If there are things that we need to discuss related to injury prevention or training athletes with different types of injuries, we have an open communication with both SportsMEDICINE and physical therapy.”
The organization teaches training methods based on extensive research that can be applied to a variety of sports and athletes. This is done with the intention of helping athletes exercise more efficiently, healthily and to prevent overtraining.
“We want to make sure that they’re really economical with their time and the time they put in the off-season,” said Hunt. “(The goal is) to stay fit and be able to compete in a multitude of sports rather than just one … In schools now, we’re seeing more specialization and it’s not healthy for kids.”
Besides the fee that athletes are required to pay to play, participation in the program comes at no cost to students. The Athletic Boosters pitched in to supplement funds in addition to amounts taken from each sport’s budget.
“Coaches … if there’s no investment, you don’t know if they’re going to follow the protocol, but now they’re all investing in it. They’re committed not only personally and professionally, but a little bit financially too,” said Hunt.
According to Rob Smith, coach of the girls basketball team, the program is worth investing in.
“We’re getting our athletes collaborating with all of the coaches and … they’re going to be a lot more coordinated,” said Smith. “There’s going to be a lot more consistency with being able to help the athletes get faster, quicker, more explosive … What you hope for, too, especially with girls, is that we can avoid injuries.”
Principal Coby Fletcher said that ensuring safety in high school athletics has become something of greater importance to him after a sport-injury hit close to home.
“I have a daughter who had a concussion last year and it took her six months to get over it,” said Fletcher. “Safety is a big deal.”
Spartan Performance will begin working with East Lansing High School’s athletes during the summer and continue into the next school year. Meetings between the coaches and professionals from the organization are in progress to determine how individual sports can improve.
“By having a school-wide comprehensive program, all the coaches know that their athlete, no matter if (they’re) in-season or out-of-season, is going to go through proper strength and conditioning activities,” said Eisenmann. “That’s the uniqueness about our relationship with East Lansing High School. It’s not just one team, it’s the entire school.”