Club for 1st-through 6th-graders promotes speed, strength


When Seymour High School physical education teacher and football head coach Mike Kelly created the Strength and Speed Club, he made some rules.

The club would focus on agility, flexibility, form lifting, speed development, circuit training, form running, plyometrics, improved balance and core strength.

The club would not be sport- or gender-specific — with both boys and girls having equal opportunities to improve and grow — and would be free for first- through sixth-graders.

The club would focus on building better athletes.

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“Seymour had an idea of creating a ‘barbell club,’ and I went to (Talmadge) Reasoner (vice principal) and asked him about getting something started with our youth,” Kelly said. “It’s something to try and get our younger athletes more involved and more athletic, learning the positions and how to move. I saw an opportunity for us to make an impact. As a teacher, seeing where we are at with our current athletic ability, I want to help at a younger age.”

Kelly and a group of volunteers, who are mostly from his coaching staff, just finished up the second session with the club.

All of the sessions are taking place at Bulleit Stadium on the Seymour High School campus, and the participants and coaches meet up twice a week.

Emerson Elementary School fifth-grader Kenny Laiz said he goes to the sessions to work on his abilities.

“I coming so I can become a better athlete,” he said. “It has been a lot of fun working with the coaches.”

Kelly said on average 30 to 40 kids are attending the sessions.

“The primary purpose for me is to help them develop as athletes and learn athletic movements,” he said. “What I mean by that is we work on foot speed, form and technique, explosiveness from plyometrics — jumping, skipping, hopping — and agility and increasing their mobility. We also add pushups, situps, air squats, so just general functional movements. They learn how to bend and hinge and get their bodies into the correct positions. They’re all things they will need to learn as they go along. It’s vital for every sport.”

Thus far, Kelly has seen a nice mix of kids. At the sessions, he breaks participants into two groups with first through third grade on one side and third through sixth on the other.

Claire Urbanski, a fifth-grader at Emerson, said she has attended about every session.

“We’ve been working on pushups, crunches, basically stuff to help us build on our positions,” she said. “I probably like squatting the best. It’s fun to become stronger and get better at it.”

The third session will be Mondays and Thursdays from Feb. 26 through March 15. Session No. 4 will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from April 17 through May 10.

“I think it’s vital,” Kelly said. “In the nature of sports now, at the high school level, to compete at the highest level, there needs to be this kind of environment for growth and development. I think not having this can put you behind the 8-ball later on.

“I also see the value in getting them moving earlier. A lot of times, people want to focus on skill development when the most important thing to focus on is athletic development. For me, developing athletically is important for every sport. That’s why we have a nice mix of boys and girls in here, too. We’re not identifying with any sport whatsoever.”

For information, contact Kelly at [email protected].

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