Whether the athletes’ seasons are almost over, or have just begun, the season really never stops because of the year-round strength and conditioning they must do, in order to stay in shape, and be able to play to the best of their abilities once it’s game time.
Strength and Conditioning Coach, Sarah Testo said she began her career at Keene State College, where she got her B.A. in P.E. health fitness, now simply called health fitness. “Then I did an internship, my undergraduate internship was at Mike Boyle’s strength conditioning facility,” Testo said.
“Before I got that internship, I decided I wanted to go to grad school, and get my masters in strength and conditioning, it was actually my cousin who, grew up in the Massachusetts area, and she went to Mike Boyle so it kind of got my internship, and then I saw there was a grad program at Springfield so it kind of got the ball rolling, so I went there and got to do some great internships, got to work with some pro and division 1 athletes, and then I got the job here,” Testo said.
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Testo explained strength and conditioning affects the athletes in positive ways by hopefully making them stronger, reduce injuries, and work on speed and agility to help the athletes perform at a higher level. “I think its useful because there’s not a lot of division three programs that have a strength coach, that’s full time on campus,” Testo said. “So I think they have the edge, where they have the opportunity to have a organized program in the off season, where they can get stronger, work on their general fitness, just prepare them for when they start practicing.”
Testo said she wants to have a trusting relationship with the athletes. “I want them to trust what I’m doing, so they are invested and understand wow, this woman is trying to help us get better, so I think trust and being able to show them that I know what I’m talking about, and I’m just here to help them. I think that if you establish that relationship, then they’ll work hard, and get the most out of it,” Testo said.
Men’s basketball player Ryan Martin said strength and conditioning are vital to the kind of play basketball requires.
“I think its really important, just because of the nature of the game, getting up and down the court the whole time, and you have to physical game too, you have to use your strength without fouling, move a defender out of the way to get a rebound or to just create space for a shot,” Martin said.
“Anything she [Testo] says, I’m willing to listen to her, I feel like she’s really knowledgeable. I think the whole team thinks the same way. You can just tell that she’s confident in what she says, and obliviously we’ve seen results from the training program she gave us in the summer, so whatever she says we listen to,” Martin explained.
Swimmer Sheila Cremin said strength and conditioning also helps out in the water.
“It really helps supplement what we do in the water because in the water, it’s a lot of endurance, so we don’t get a lot of movements that will help us with, like our starts and turns, and lifting just helps bring a lot of power, and it is also a lot of injury prevention because we have a lot of repetitive motions, so we will do lifting stuff that will work opposite muscles, so you don’t get shoulder injuries or knee injuries,” Cremin said.
“If we didn’t have strength and conditioning, we would kind of lift on our own, and sometimes people don’t lift properly, or you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you can hurt yourself so it really helps to have the people working there, because they show you how to do it properly,” Cremin added.
Women’s Basketball Coach Keith Boucher said the most difficult part of the strength and conditioning program is the time management skills the athletes need to have.
“If you want to be the best you can be, then you’re going to explore any avenue to get that done. Strength and Conditioning is a big avenue,” Boucher said.
“If you go about it the right way, and give it 100 percent, you’re going to get stronger, and that’s going to strengthen the muscles and the joints, and if that happens, you’re less susceptible to injury and if you get an injury, your recovery time has shortened,” Boucher said.
Coach Boucher added, “So I think strength and conditioning is something that’s paramount for student athletes at any level,” Boucher added.
“Sarah Testo has developed a program that is user friendly, because you’re going to know how to do it, and its not so much time that its going to kill you, but its enough time so you’re going to develop the muscular strength, and the joint strength that you need to be successful,” Boucher explained.
“I trust Sarah immensely; she knows what she’s doing. She’s worked with some of the best people in the country,” Boucher said.
“A strength and conditioning person you can have two certifications world wide, and I think she has both of them,” Boucher continued, “I respect her abilities, I respect her knowledge, and I think the players do too.”
Women’s basketball player Vicky Vitale said strength and conditioning is a good way to get all the players in shape during the preseason.
“It eases you into season I feel like so your not so far behind other schools, and a lot of schools I know they don’t have such an aggressive program so I mean they are probably set back in a lot of ways,” Vitale said.
“I think its cool to have someone like Sarah Testo who’s there to push you, and make those programs for each team, you can look back at your test scores from freshman year and see how far you’ve come through like your senior year, and your weights go up, your quickness, everything,” Vitale said.
Women’s basketball player Carly Kiernan said the program helps out a lot of athletes getting prepared for the season, but more importantly gives the freshmen a glimpse of what to expect, playing at the collegiate level.
“Everything she does, you can tell the results, you’re sour in different places like everyday. Her programs are really focused on getting all of her athletes into the best shape,” Kiernan said.
Testo said recruits interns from the Health Science department, who want to get into strength and conditioning later in life.
“So I mean with all the upperclassmen, you already know all the lifts, but its helpful when freshman don’t know what they’re doing and we don’t really know how to explain it in a way that they should be doing it actually correctly, so its easier to have someone there,” Vitale said.
“Sarah Testo is always coming up with new exercises, so some of those we don’t even know, so its really helpful to have her interns there to kind of show us and help us out,” Kiernan said.
Even when athletes are out of season at Keene State College, they are still expected to perform. Testo’s training program keeps athletes on their toes during the offseason.
The athletes said they appreciate Testo’s effort to keep them in shape even after the final whistle blows.
Brandon Chabot can be contacted