New weight lifting coaches plan to change strength training environment

Curran Nielsen, Editor-in-Chief

Many coaches agree that weightlifting is fundamental to becoming a better, stronger athlete. In an effort to continue this trend, the school hired two new weightlifting coaches this year, Chris Holder and Bubba Reynolds.

Holder, the new head strength and conditioning coach, has been a strength coach at many different schools including Eastern Kentucky University, Cal Poly SLO, Appalachian State University in North Carolina, and San Jose State. Reynolds, the new assistant strength and conditioning coach, started out as a student assistant at his college at Humboldt State, completed a five-month internship at the University of Notre Dame, and then coached at the University of Nevada Reno and later at the University of Hawaii.

Holder took the job as an opportunity to get back to his California roots.

“When the job was open, Dan O’Dell, our girls’ volleyball coach, reached out and wanted to know if I would be interested, and I am a Southern California born and raised and getting back home was one of those things that it was always something that I wanted,” Holder said. “I have always known about Mater Dei and the athletic success and history … [so] being a candidate for the job I was like, absolutely, I would love to work at Mater Dei.”

Similarly, Reynolds always wanted to come back home to southern California. He said he felt that the school’s environment was the biggest draw to accepting the job.

“Growing up in southern California, Mater Dei always had this prestige in culture that made you want to be a part of it,” Reynolds said. “…when the opportunity arose, I was in between jobs [and] it just kind of made the most sense… I knew the culture and the kids and just kind of everything would fit me well as a person and so I was very attracted to that, to the point where I could see myself working here.”

Through his personal experiences, Reynolds has realized that weightlifting is a successful way to improve athletic performance.

“For me as a kid, I was always undersized. I was always … a decent athlete but I knew in some way I could level the playing field among the more athletic,” Reynolds said. “I knew the harder that I worked in [the weight room], the better I knew I was going to be out there on the field.”

Weightlifting also has extreme benefits of helping decrease injuries.

“We can attribute the decrease of injuries to the change in the program,” Director of Athletics Tia Meza said in an email. “With decreased injuries, athletes spend less time off the field and more time contributing to team’s successes.”

The coaches said that, while they walked into a great, established program, they have plans to implement some changes to help student athletes further. So far, they have changed the warm-up exercise for the weightlifting class and added more kettle bell workouts, a weight that previous coaches did not emphasize.

“The warm up is completely different … because we wanted to strengthen that part of every session … [so it’s not just something] that means, okay, it’s time to begin,” Holder said. “For me, the kettle bell stuff is kinda my thing, so bringing the kettle bells in was obviously a big change for everybody but it’s something that everyone sort of picked up and adapted to well.”

In order to see these changes through, Holder and Reynolds have been working with the other assistant strength and conditioning coach Katie Guizar, who has been at the school for five years. Guizar hopes to add on to Holder’s and Reynolds’ changes by incorporating sandbag workouts to students’ routines.

“…I think we’re just going to continue to progress how [students] train,” Guizar said.

Athletes have already started to notice change in the weight room compared to previous seasons.

“Before [fall season], it was more technique and just learning how to lift and now its actual heavy weight and a lot harder,” said sophomore Brooke Demetre, a varsity girls’ basketball player. “I think with the new coaches it’s a lot better and we’re actually sweating and it’s harder. We’re using different muscle groups.”

They hope that the new changes in the weight room will change the athlete’s perspective on lifting and how it can have a key role in their success.

“I think getting the kids and everyone to understand that lifting weights is not just lifting weights, it’s kind of like running track – it isn’t just running there’s more. There’s beauty in the simplicity of it but it can be very kind of complex,” Reynolds said. “Having you guys pay attention and be great in here and watching that transfer on the field … is especially amazing, and, it sounds kind of cliche in the strength world, but getting you to understand the ‘why’ behind everything that we do … gives you purpose and drive…”

The coaches also said they want to create a community in the weight room and make it a place where teams can become family and grow together in their strength.

“What we’re trying to build here is a culture that understands that we can be an incredibly valuable asset to you guys as you’re developing in your sports and help building team culture, and we’re looking to a be a centerpiece to that…” Holder said. “Bubba and I also bring in and emphasize the idea that we can really help teams improve and we can really help teams win and build a type of culture that Mater Dei is about and hopefully what we all kind of hope for.”