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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on March 9th, 2010, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 10, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 10, Issue 52

Training day

With help from his own product, Righetti's conditioning coach helps athletes reach their potential

BY JEREMY THOMAS


Dragging the bag
Righetti High School track and field athlete Alfredo Concepcion demonstrated the Speedsac resistance training system, developed by the school’s strength and conditioning coach Monte’ Nash.
PHOTO BY JEREMY THOMAS
You can tell which athletes are driven. They’re the ones out there on the field, day in and day out, even in the rain, getting every last ounce of effort from their bodies.

More often these days, players who want to go the extra mile can turn to strength and conditioning coaches to get the most from their workouts. Common in the pro ranks, the specialized coaches are becoming more visible at high schools nationwide as an increasing number of schools recognize the importance of an off-season training regimen.

Santa Maria’s Righetti High School has its own in-house strength and conditioning coach, Monte’ Nash, who works with student-athletes from nearly all the major sports at the school. While it’s up to the coaches to take advantage of his presence, most do, seeing the improvement the extra training produces in their players.

“I try to give them the best product to put on the field,” Nash said. “I’m kind of like a farmer who grows the fruit or the plants or vegetables, and I give it to the coaches who cook up the different ingredients.”

Nash recently developed his own form of resistance training, a technique of sprinting with weights in tow, often with a metal sled or parachute. He began the program with Righetti’s track team, using weights loaded in river kayaking bags attached to athletes’ bodies with a dog leash.

Nash said he soon noticed a drop in the athletes’ track times and felt the training should be available to the masses, so he developed the “Speedsac” sled and weight system with two other partners. The lightweight, synthetic rubber sack straps around the athlete’s waist. Ten-pound weights are loaded inside. The athlete sprints or slides along the turf with up to 50 pounds dragging behind in the bag.

Nash said his product develops the athletes’ backside muscles, an integral part of balance and coordination, in a safer way than the traditional forms of resistance training.

After its success with track, the program expanded to other sports at Righetti. Nash generally runs the athletes through the resistance training twice a week, for up to three hours, incorporating all of the major muscle groups. The athletes who’ve used Nash’s brand of training say it’s worked wonders for their games.

Quentin Sims, a senior guard, started working with Nash along with the rest of his team his freshman year. Sims said as a result, he’s seen an increase in his strength and endurance on the court.

“No one wants to come out of a basketball game,” he said. “It gives me legs in the fourth quarter.”

Ian Lane, a senior goalie for the Warriors’ soccer team, took advantage of Nash’s availability over winter break after recovering from an injury.


Extra effort
Coach Nash (pictured here with Alfredo Concepcion) works with players of all sports on various drills designed to improve the athletes’ strength and stability.
PHOTO BY JEREMY THOMAS
“I noticed I felt a lot stronger and a lot more fit during the games and practices,” Lane said. “I used to do curls at home. That might look good under a T-shirt for the ladies, but I think all the Speedsac work helps with your performance on the field more because it’s less like working out and more of a full-body workout.”

When used in conjunction with a heavyweight jump rope, a six-pound rope filled with sand and rubber, Nash’s training techniques have helped the players strengthen their core muscle group. The core is important to athletes who have to make multi-dimensional moves at the spur of the moment, Nash explained. If the core isn’t stable, the athletes are at the mercy of momentum.

In 2009-’10, their second year working with Nash, the Righetti girls’ tennis team made the CIF playoffs for the first time in eight years. Senior Jessica Cane credited the training with helping the Warriors reach their potential.

“Our team as a whole improved a lot,” Cane said. “We had much better serves this year just from strength. We were a lot faster, and compared to every other team, we weren’t tired.”

Cane said she saw the change most in her side-to-side movements.

“I’ve noticed my stabilizer muscles have gotten a lot stronger,” she said. “You go from sprinting with weights, then you take the weights off and you go to play a game, and you’re like, ‘Wow, I can move so much faster.’ I’d come off my first set not even tired at all for my second set.”

In their first year with Nash, Righetti’s girls’ water polo team finished third place in the league and also made CIF. The team engaged in resistance training together, and according to senior Erica McLean, the off-season work made all the difference.

“To add on Nash, you could definitely see there was an improvement,” she said. “We did weight training before, but it was more random. With Nash you focus on your arms one day, your legs another day—it’s very well rounded. With water polo, you need all your muscles.”

 While participants have seen the benefits of resistance training across the board, Nash said the results are especially noticeable in track athletes, who rely on the burst of speed out of the gate to carry them to a good run.

Senior cross country runner Jeremy Pena credited training with the Speedsac with building the extra leg muscle necessary for strong finishes and a 15- to 20-second cut in racing times. Teammate Trevor Nisen also saw a “big improvement” in his times since training with Nash his freshman year.

“When you’re working with the sacks, it’s a great time to work on your form and with your shoulders and back,” Nisen said. “A lot of times when you’re running a race, it comes back to who has the best form.”


PHOTO BY JEREMY THOMAS
The Speedsac sled retails for $100, and the 10-pound sand-laden weights sell for $20 apiece. Working through online vendors, Nash is trying to get the product into retail outlets. So far, Nash has sold quantities to Allan Hancock College and Santa Maria, St. Joseph, and Valley Christian high schools.

While Nash has found a home at Righetti, he opens his program up to high school athletes from all over the area, regardless of school affiliation. He said when it comes to training, student-athletes shouldn’t be limited to what their own school provides.

“It’s all about helping the kids who want to get better,” he said. “These kids deserve a lot more, and collectively I think the Central Coast could become a region for these kids to use athletics to pay for their education.

“If they want to be the best, if they want to do extra, that’s what I’m here for,” he added. “I’m happy to be a part of that.”

Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas types with sandbags tied to his fingers. Send comments to jthomas@santamariasun.com.