After a successful pilot, the district will continue employing a sports performance coach throughout the summer and next school year. Michael Yuschak, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, started working with teams and athletes last summer in a role funded by the Ottawa Hills Boosters.
“We wanted to try a slightly different model,” said Tammy Talmage, the district’s athletic administrator. “Michael and I talked and we decided that he would reach out to the teams to find out what their needs were and where they wanted to have him work with their athletes. And we wanted this role to become an extension of our athletic program.”
Mr. Yuschak (his last name is pronounced YOOS-chak) has 12 years of experience as an athletic trainer, coach, and health consultant. This school year, he worked with nearly all 18 varsity teams, and therefore most of the program’s 300-plus student athletes. He also provided support to several junior varsity teams.
After consulting with coaches, he developed and presented a range of services, from instructional warmup and workouts to sport-specific training. “I start all my conversations with coaches by asking ‘What do you need from me?’” Mr. Yuschak said. “What do you need from me to improve your athletes’ conditioning or strength, make them move and feel better, or help with food and hydration concepts?”
Athletes generally ask the same two questions: How can I improve my vertical (vertical leap is often used as proxy to indicate an athlete’s overall strength) and how do I get faster? “My goal is to make every interaction with student athletes a learning experience,” Mr. Yuschak said.
Prior to working with Ottawa Hills, he providing strength and conditioning training to Bowling Green, Anyone Wayne, and Whitmer high schools. Ottawa Hills stands out for the number of athletes playing two or more sports.
“Ottawa Hills has a lot of multisport athletes who move from one team to another, often without a break,” he said. “Because of that, you can’t train them too hard. That produces vulnerability for injury. Instead, we focus on keeping the training and conditioning general for them.”
“Michael’s done a nice job of not only working with the facilities we have, but expanding our approach to fitness and conditioning,” Ms. Talmage said. That expansion includes taking training beyond the Multipurpose Room and weight room, to the John Lindsay Court, Chris Hardman Field, Geresy Field, and Niedermeier Stadium – wherever the team needs the service delivered.
During the school year, he worked about 12 hours a week. He’ll keep the same number of hours this summer but also is available to do small-group and individual workouts outside of his normal schedule. (Parents interested should contact him about rates and availability.) Also this summer, he will run a Jump and Speed Clinic.
The sports performance coach will have an office inside the new Kadens Family Fitness Center, when it opens later this year.
“He’s doing an amazing job and the teams are happy,” said Ms. Talmage. I’m looking at the future, once that fitness center is there. My hope is that it grows. The long-term goal is could it be a full-time position.”
In addition to his professional certifications, Mr. Yuschak also has an Ohio Pupil Activity Permit, which is required for individuals who direct, supervise, or coach a program that involves athletics, routine or regular physical activity, or activities with health and safety considerations.
A native of Texas, he and his family later moved to central Ohio near Mansfield. He graduated from Shelby High School, where he played tennis and golf; he has coached middle school and high school teams (cross country, track and field) while working as a high school science teacher in Fort Myers, Florida.
He has two degrees from Bowling Green State University: a bachelor’s in health promotion and communications and a master’s in developmental kinesiology and biomechanics. While a student at BGSU, he worked in the athletic department’s strength and conditioning department and started a personal-training consultancy.
Summer hours and schedules:
His summer hours are Monday: 8:30-10:30 a.m.; Tuesday: 7:30-11 a.m.; and Thursday: 7:30-11 a.m. Mr. Yuschak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org