The three-month home quarantine due to COVID-19 had some coaches worried their players would be out of shape for the start of summer workouts.
Not Lake Dallas head volleyball coach Kristinn Holbrooks.
“Surprisingly good,” she said. “When we came back day one (June 8), I kept preaching to them, ‘Don’t get frustrated. It’s supposed to look ugly. If it was, why are we not winning state championships?’”
How good of shape the Lady Falcons were in for the first day of Falcon Pride summer workouts can be traced back to the positive reinforcement by the coaching staff during the team’s weekly Zoom meetings.
Stay mentally strong. Eat healthy. Get enough exercise.
Holbrooks used Google Classroom to design at-home workouts and individual drills for the player to use to improve their overall game.
“Our goal in our team Zoom meeting was, ‘We can either get bitter about what life has thrown at us or we can use it as an opportunity to get better,’” Holbrooks said. “I feel like, as a program, we’ve bought into it and gotten better.”
Once the Lady Falcons returned to the school’s fieldhouse last week, they had a familiar face in Nick Christian, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, to oversee their strength and conditioning workouts for the second summer in a row.
With the pandemic forcing Lake Dallas to not have access to the school’s weight room for three months, Christian is combining speed and agility drills with their strength and conditioning regimen.
“The main goal is to build a foundation to ensure no one is getting injured during the season,” he said. “The priority is safety. We want to prevent injury. I have the training to prevent the injuries.”
Junior outside hitter Ashley Machuca trains with Christian three times a week at his gym in Keller.
“Having Nick here is great because he helps us to get stronger and faster,” she said. “He’s helping us make sure we’re eating healthy and our bodies are ready for the season.”
Senior right-side hitter Delanie Schantz has noticed significant improvement in her vertical jump.
“Every time I work out with him, we’ve gotten better” she said. “Our verticals have gotten 10 times better. I’m really excited to see how we do after this Falcon Pride.”
Christian ensures social distancing guidelines are being followed and the Lady Falcons are wearing masks while in the field house. Equipment has been spaced six feet apart. A green “X” has been taped 6 feet behind each of the lifting stations.
Holbrooks calls the enforcement a “learning experience for all of us. It’s natural to say, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ But, they’re doing a good job.”
Freshman Georgia Stinson is just happy to get back to some type of normality.
“It’s good,” she said. “The older kids are pushing me to get better.”
Inside the gymnasium, the Lady Falcons worked on skills the coaching staff thought they struggled with a year ago. It was a plan that had been discussed multiple times over a Zoom meeting. Their goal was to devise as many drills as possible to fix those bad habits.
“Mainly, it’s been a long time since these girls have been in a gym,” Holbrooks said. “It’s about getting as many reps as possible.”
Lake Dallas has used an outside-the-box type of approach to work on their hitting.
A pair of wooden triangular platforms provided the Lady Falcons with targets to hit the ball.
“It’s helped out a lot,” Holbrooks said. “It looks a little wonky the first time we used them. It allows us opportunities to coach more because we’re not standing in the area where balls are entering or standing on a box swinging. They can do everything themselves and we can talk to them.”
Lake Dallas is just happy to be back together in a team setting.
“I’ve told them since day one of last year that this is my happy place,” Holbrooks said. “I know how much they struggled (away from school). Us as coaches struggled just as much not being around them and not knowing if they were OK as much. Not seeing them every day was hard.”