Friday, May 10, 2002

Girls find strength in lifting

Weight rooms not just for boys anymore

By Michael D. Clark,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MORROW — Once the bastion of boys, off-season weight training has become an essential workout component for young female athletes who now eagerly tout the benefits of hoisting iron along with the boys.

        Though it's months from the beginning of high school girls basketball and volleyball seasons, girls throughout Greater Cincinnati are already queuing up at school weight rooms to bench, squat and curl alongside male classmates.

        “On certain days, you'll find tons of girls training on weights,” said Rob Blanton, Little Miami High School athletic director. “In the last several years there has definitely been more of a trend where girls are working out in the weight room in the off-season.”

        Tamette Duckworth, assistant athletic director for Princeton High School and coach of the girls volleyball team, said such training is now as important for girls applying for college athletic scholarships as for boys.

        Ms. Duckworth said in the last couple of years she has noticed colleges asking girls to list their bench press and squat weights in their application.

        “Our girls in most of our sports programs work out. We really encourage them,” she said.

        Gerry Lackey, coach of state girls basketball power Mason High School, credits off-season weight training for boosting the program, which won a state championship in 2000.

        “We do take pride in having our girls involved in that. Our main goals are to prevent injuries and to make them stronger than our opponents,” said Mr. Lackey.

        Little Miami center Erin Hubbard is one of those Mason opponents in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference. The junior player said she quickly realized that to play among the best in girls basketball, weight training would have to become a part of her life.

        “You have to lift to compete,” said the 17-year-old.

        Her teammate, Stephanie Journeay, also a junior, said the benefits often extend beyond the basketball court in that many girls, just like boys, report a growing sense of overall confidence and better ability to deal with daily stress.

        “It not only makes you stronger, but you feel better about yourself,” said Stephanie.

        Little Miami girls basketball coach Mark Short, said: “At first, I think there was a stigma attached for some girls. ... Some of them thought weight training was going to make them look like the guys.”

        But that myth was quickly dispelled, said Mr. Short, and now he estimates that “at 95 percent of the schools we play against the girls are lifting weights.”

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