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JBLM youth prepare for fall sports with whole body approach

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:36PM August 2nd, 2012
JBLM youth prepare for fall sports with whole body approach

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Meredith Burney, left, works with Luis Acosta during a recent Scholar-Athlete Strength and Conditioning Camp at the Teen Zone on Lewis Main.

Though still weeks away, a group of Joint Base Lewis-McChord youths have already begun preparing themselves physically and mentally for the fall sports season.

Meredith Burney, an Army spouse and a former successful multi-sport athlete, conducted a Scholar-Athlete Strength and Conditioning Camp at the Teen Zone on Lewis Main July 24 to 26. Burney has experience coaching college and prep athletes and also has a master’s degree in exercise and sport studies.

Burney’s nonprofit organization, The Scholar Athlete, aims to educate and mentor kids to become better athletes and students.

“I see kids at this age specializing in a sport way too early,” Burney said. “Gone are the days of the three or four-sport athletes. I really think the emphasis needs to be on the whole body, developing all muscle groups and to trying to get the kids to realize it’s about health and fitness.”

This year’s camp was the first of its kind on JBLM. About 13 student athletes attended the three-day camp, three hours each day. The camp includes conditioning, agility training, as well as lessons on sports psychology and nutrition. Burney provided all student athletes with a notebook to take notes during her lessons.

“We’re in school to become a better athlete,” Burney said.

Burney taught about the importance of proper nutrition on the second day of the camp. The kids asked such questions as, “Is pizza bad?” and “Is Gatorade good for you?”

Burney likes to add fun elements each day and invited local marathon runner, Ruth Perkins, to share her story on the first day. Jamba Juice provided smoothies the second day and talked about healthy rehydration and a licensed massage therapist was present the third day for sport massages.

When they weren’t taking notes, the kids were involved in circuit training inside the Teen Zone gym or participating in drills on the Cowan Stadium track.

Steva Brown is a Child, Youth and School Services program lead and also coaches the JBLM youth cross-country team. Brown went through the circuit the first day with the kids.

“For me and I think for the kids, you want to do certain exercises but you’re not really sure how to get started,” Brown said. “This way they’re learning a lot of different exercises and feeling confident about it afterward.”

Burney found as an Army spouse moving around frequently with three children, she was able to start her small business of coaching and mentoring. She works with teams, small groups and individuals to share the knowledge she wished she had when she was a teen, she said.

Each day during the camp, Burney represented a different college with her clothing. The second day she wore the cardinal red of Stanford, where her husband, a doctor at Madigan Army Medical Center, did his fellowship.

“I like to get the kids thinking about higher education,” Burney said. “I like to wear college stuff to get the kids excited thinking about, whether or not they’re going to be playing a sport at that level, they need to academically push themselves.”