Suffer for it: Redwood lacrosse teams prepare for the season

With muscles straining, sweat dripping and heavy breathing, the Redwood boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams recently embarked on their three-week-long preseason workouts. The workouts were open to any students who wanted to participate in the program regardless of whether or not they make the actual team. They were led by personal trainer and conditioning specialist Stein-Erik Skaar, who has worked with both teams for the past seven years.

“The previous coach [of Redwood’s lacrosse] used to come to my boot camp classes, and he kept getting his butt kicked. Then one day he decided that it would be really good for his kids to have this same type of conditioning and asked me to come out on a trial basis,” Skaar said.

Following the initial trial workout, Skaar became the head conditioning coach for Redwood Lacrosse, and finds working with teens to be incredibly rewarding.

Stein-Erik Skaar provides motivation for the team.

“To be able to come here and help them at this point in their lives where things are so great already and to help them achieve the stuff they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives – performing at a really high competitive level, winning a championship,” Skaar said. “Those are the things that you’ll store in your memory bank and remember when you’re 80 years old, sitting on that swinging chair on your porch. And I’m glad to be a part of that, even if [the effect is only seen] in the long term.”

Senior Lucy Robbins, who has been playing for the varsity girls’ team for four years says that Skaar’s workouts have a strong impact on the team’s fitness so they can prepare for the grueling  season.

“It’s something we don’t take lightly because these workouts really set the note and the tone for the rest of the high school season,” Robbins said.

Although the workout program was at first a concept from Skaar, it was not officially created until head coach Blake Atkins, took over the lacrosse program. Atkins brought Skaar on board as the head conditioning coach, tasked with leading the workout program.

“This [program] was a way of getting the kids in shape so that when they got to their tryouts, the last thing they would have to worry about was being in shape cause they’d already be there and they could really focus in on their skills,” Skaar said.

Senior Luke Elders, who has been on the team for four years feels that the training is an effective way to bring everyone together, building more team camaraderie.

“Everyone is about winning and giving yourself to the team rather than just playing for yourself,” Elders said.

The team trains using whatever equipment is available, including a bench

Getting into shape is no easy task at the hand of Skaar. The hour-long individual training sessions vary from day to day, containing everything from running to drills working with TRX training equipment. The final day of the preseason workout program is Skaar’s favorite; he calls it the Gauntlet.

“[It] pushes you to that point where maybe you’re getting a little bit dizzy, you’re feeling a little outside your comfort zone,” Skaar said. “But that’s really what it takes to achieve real physical fitness.”

For this season, athletes like Elders and Robbins had a challenge ahead of them because Skaar had set a muddy field as the designated area for the workout.

“It was literally like running in quicksand,” Elders said.

Yet even in the toughest conditions, it is often Skaar’s rhetoric and motivation that keeps the students working hard, according to Robbins.

“This expression that I have, I say ‘suffer for it,’ just means put in the effort because it’s worth it. You’re gonna get it back tenfold,” Skaar said.

Stein-Erik Skaar demonstrates use of TRX suspension equipment

For the students, enduring the grueling workouts is all about their mentality.

“I find [Skaar’s saying] pretty inspirational,” Robbins said.  “Nothing comes easy and you really have to work for what you want to achieve.”