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Royals “risin’ up to the challenge”
Monday, February 27, 2012
by Charmagne Yeung
If you’ve ever walked into the Chris Johnson Fitness Centre at the Douglas College New Westminster campus, there’s a good chance you’ve had the opportunity to see Jake Elder, the Douglas College Strength and Conditioning coach, shout encouragements at a team of grunting athletes over the lyrics to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger. This is an every day occurrence for Douglas, but, interestingly enough, “in Canada, there aren’t many institutions with athletic trainers,” says Jake, who’s been conditioning athletic teams for the college since 2007.
As a former professional baseball player for the Arizona Diamondbacks and an honour’s graduate with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, Jake knows about the importance of “looking at [sports] from an athlete’s standpoint and how it affects your body, and also knowing the science behind it.” But he says it’s just as important having "someone there to implement structure, especially for students coming out of high school… You need to have someone there to teach proper technique and proper progressions… Every athlete is unique and needs a specific workout with a coach observing and correcting.” This is where Douglas steps up to the plate and offers a more unique experience with college athletics.
At Douglas, “you’re not just here to play a sport. It’s so much more than that. Being a student athlete is about representing your school; you’re high profile… There’s so much more of a responsibility that comes with it,” says Jake. Having that person to take you through fundamental training and coach you through your season will enhance your athletic experience. His strict regimen of condensed training focuses on “getting you faster and stronger so that you have the ability to perform better technically in your sport.” He will push you to build on your foundation with an “emphasis on proper technique and proper range of motion.”
Jordan Or, second-year men’s volleyball libero, says that the training sessions “are a good routine. It’s hard at first, but it gets better... It feels like an improvement from last year when we didn’t have a trainer.”
Jake’s concern for present athletes is paramount. “We spend so much time in North America in general, but Canada in particular, trying to get technically better in our sport that we don’t focus on developing our body enough. We have individuals who have perfect technique but… they’re smaller, weaker, and more susceptible to injury… It’s so common,” says Jake. “If you’re coming to Douglas and if you’re working with me, we’re going to develop your body so that you can handle the demands of your sport. We want to get you to where you’re supposed to be so you can perform the way you want.”
So, the next time you’re at the college and you see a team of exhausted athletes stumbling out of the fitness centre, give Jake a thumb’s up because it’s his “ass-kicking, ‘thrill of the fight’” workouts that will make a difference in the way you perform in your sport.