by RANDY GREGORY
Rockford has enjoyed a nearly 20-year run of previously unparalleled success across the board in their athletic department. The Rams have numerous state titles and top five finishes in sports as varied as gymnastics to football, crew to basketball, and swimming to baseball. Toss in the cross country, track, water polo, wrestling, volleyball and baseball crowns and it isn’t hard to see why the athletic program is the envy of many schools around the state. Great coaches and great athletes have dotted the landscape over this golden era.
Add in facilities that were state-of-the-art at the high school level when they were built in 1994, and have remained that way through bond issues passed by a generous locale populace, and it is easy to envision things staying status quo for the foreseeable future.
But one part of the program that had fallen more than a bit behind the times is the weight room. When parents, administrators, coaches and student athletes have made forays into other schools that have been constructed more recently it was fairly obvious the Rams were seriously lacking in the facilities and equipment offered at Rockford High School. Please consider that situation rectified.
When the last bond issue was passed a few years back and new academic and athletic facilities were constructed or added onto, Rockford Public Schools had a little bit of extra money on hand due to favorable interest rates. The weight room was a situation that administrators knew they needed to address and they made a survey of local facilities. What they came up with is a testament to the school colors, efficiency and a far more gender-friendly atmosphere.
“The old weight room looked more like something from the textbook on general strength training for football players,” said Rockford Athletic Director Tim Erickson. “We eliminated the dank sweatshop look and drastically changed the types and amounts of weight machines offered. All of the new equipment is orange and black and multi-functional. We also added windows so the kids could look out into open spaces and to brighten up the atmosphere.”
The capabilities of the newly remodeled weight room versus the old weight room are eye-popping. The exercise selection has increased dramatically. It would take days to describe the various exercises that can now be done inside the new weight room. Safety for the students has improved. The racks and platforms provide a safe designated area to perform each exercise. The equipment is of the highest quality. Rockford students are now provided with the best fitness equipment available. When our students walk into the room they are bombarded with Ram logos to influence school pride. Every plate and every dumbbell has the orange Ram logo on it. The walls are painted with school logos.
The new equipment was purchased through Rogers Athletic Company. The upgraded facility includes seven Pendulum Dual Racks. The Pendulum Dual Rack provides two work stations effectively arranged for closed-chain workouts. This means every exercise can be done in the rack and there is no need to travel around the room. With these racks, they are able to work out more students in less space. They have unlimited versatility now with their exercise selection. The room also includes seven Pendulum Glute/Ham Machines, four Pendulum Hip Presses, two Pendulum 5-Way Neck Machines, 14 TRX Suspension Training Systems, 14 Battle Ropes, 14 sets of chains, 14 Power Lift Adjustable Plyometric Boxes, 14 sets of Power Lift Technique Boxes, 14 sets of Dynamax Med Balls, 14 sets of bumper plates, 14 sets of standard weight plates, 14 BOSU Pro Balance Trainers, 14 Sand Bags, all new weights and dumbbells. The facility also received a technology upgrade to enhance student learning during their P.E. classes. The floor was replaced, new windows were put in, mirrors were put up, fans to improve airflow were installed, the drinking fountain received an upgrade, and new doors were installed to heighten security.
Rockford’s advanced conditioning program is run by former University of Michigan football player Brent Cummings. He is thrilled with the improvements and notes that the enthusiastic reception comes not only from the male athletes, but the female side as well.
“Our female students are very excited to use the newly designed weight room,” said Cummings. “We have heard comments from our female student population that they like all the colors. They like the organization of the room. Most importantly, they are also excited about the exercises they are now able to engage in. The TRX Suspension Trainers, Dynamax Medicine Balls, and the BOSU Pro Balance Trainers are seeming to be favorites of the female students.”
Cummings continued, “There is definitely a positive buzz going around the school in regards to our newly upgraded weight room. The kids are excited to use it and use it often.”