Private high schools are making the collegiate arms race for facilities look like nothing. When I saw the recently renovated athletic facility at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California, I knew it was done and done RIGHT. Bubba Reynolds, Director of Sports Performance, has assembled an Avengers-type staff with Ryan Nguyen and Chase Sanders. These three full-time strength coaches have more than 28 years of combined experience and train over 800 athletes daily in this 5,500-square-foot facility.
Video 1. Virtual tour of Orange Lutheran with Coach Bubba Reynolds.
This space was initially built in 2015 as part of a $15 million project by Orange Lutheran and its athletics department. Along with this beautiful space are an athletic training room, gym, locker room, and offices. The initial push for the weight side of the project was not only the need to house the growing athletic department but also an initiative by the school to help promote healthy living for their students.The initial push for the weight side of the project wasn’t only the need to house the growing athletic department but also an initiative by the school to help promote healthy living for their students. Click To Tweet
This idea is something that I think is not as prevalent or talked about at the high school level—the reality is that only around 7% of high school athletes will play a college sport, so how can you cater to and impact the other portion of your student population? This push for healthy living first helps all students as well as those athletes who are looking for that little push in their sport. Now the coaches here are renovating this space to help accommodate the amount and type of training being done at Orange Lutheran. This effort is designed to improve the flow and ease of training to match the experience level of the staff they have put together.
This space is made up of a large PLAE flooring piece, nine Powerlift double-sided half-racks, and many other accessories, including UCS plyo boxes, VALD, etc. Imagine the space is split into thirds:
- One-third of the room is turf.
- One-third is the nine double-sided racks.
- One-third is where you can find the other accessory pieces and dumbbells.
This is not your typical customized weight room with team branding all over the place—obviously, there are some customized pieces, but promoting healthy living for their athletes is the primary goal. Coach Reynolds focused more on the quality of the equipment with the normal level of customization than seeking out the company that would do the most from a branding and colors perspective. Coach Reynolds also mentioned that a considerable part of their plan with the new setup is to have each rack be uniform with the same equipment.
“Having one of each type of equipment at the racks is a non-negotiable for us because you need to be able to move on the fly, no matter where you are in the room. So, if one rack has chains for accommodating resistance, but another one doesn’t, this will create problems in our organization and timing if a team needs to be on one side of the turf or the other, depending on the situation.”
Each one of the double-sided racks consists of a 35-pound bar, set of DC blocks, pair of chains, dip/weight belt, RFE split squat attachment, trap bar, TRX attachment, and fat grips. There is a separate storage area in the corner of the weight room for the specialty bars: multi-grip, safety squat bar, etc. A large rack also stores the program’s main kettlebells at the end of the turf area.
Plyometric boxes are lined up together in one area against the wall, and medicine ball racks are evenly distributed in the corners of the room (4–20 pounds). Power Lift dumbbells are standardly distributed across the room, so athletes can grab any weight from 3 pounds to 100 pounds without having to walk and carry it around too far, and there are UMAX “beauty” dumbbells that go from 3–20 pounds in 2.5-pound increments. Those weight trees are evenly distributed across the room as well.My favorite part of this space is how easily accessible everything is—that’s the only way to survive when training 80+ kids at a time. Click To Tweet
Foam pads, sliders, and Sorinex rollers are in the center of the room to grab from (18 of each type of equipment). Mini-bands, LAX balls, foam rollers, PVC sticks, and wooden dowels are sectioned by the kettlebell rack at the end of the turf, which they call the “soft tissue area.” My favorite part of this space is how easily accessible everything is—that’s the only way to survive when training 80+ kids at a time. This shows the expert level of these coaches and the quality of the training they give their athletes.
Coach Reynolds values the technology piece of sports performance, especially with the work they do on the VALD ForceDecks and the more than 20 iPads they use to deliver their training with Teambuildr. Over 800 athletes come in and jump daily, allowing the staff to monitor performance and create player profiles that can be updated to show each athlete’s progress.
Programming for 800+ athletes sounds like a lot of printer ink and sheets of paper if done the old-school Excel route, which is why Orange Lutheran utilizes the Teambuildr training app and iPad combination to deliver those programs—this has a higher upfront cost, but it is cheaper in the long run.
Video 2. Explanation of how Orange Lutheran uses Vald force plates.
The main reason for constructing this space for the Orange Lutheran athletes was to promote a healthy lifestyle for them as growing young individuals, not just stronger and faster athletes. I think many spaces are designed only with the athletes in mind to help them in the next stage of their athletic career, but Coaches Reynolds, Nguyen, and Sanders do a world-class job of managing and promoting the education behind those lifestyles.
I hope more coaches value this type of space instead of only caring about how it might look on an Instagram post, with its focus on uniformity and flow. But don’t let that fool you—this weight room is BEAUTIFUL too!
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