New strength, conditioning coaches aid student athlete performance

By J1 Reporters Lizzy Lampert and Sarah Ritterling

This past summer and into the fall Marian athletes have had the opportunity to work with new strength coaches. Coaches Lauren Barefoot and Molly Pettit from Nebraska Performance Academy worked with athletes each week to better their performance through strength training.

The strength training program at Marian has been going on since 2002 with trainer Ed Dudley, and it has not changed much over the years. Over the summer, Dudley had hip surgery and the school needed to find someone to fill his shoes while in recovery. Coaches Barefoot and Pettit were asked to work with Marian’s athletes to prepare them for their seasons. According to Dudley, they did such a great job that they were invited to continue during the school year.

Barefoot started working here after being asked by Pettit to help her coach. This past spring she saw Marian’s Field Day, the culture of an all girls school, and the vibe of sorority and sisterhood, which she thought was the “coolest thing.” She discovered a “hype atmosphere” in the community at Marian and the club volleyball girls she worked with. Barefoot was sold on Marian and would love her own daughter to come here.

The all girls environment at Marian was not new to Barefoot because of her time spent at the College of Saint Mary, but “the culture here (Marian) is even cooler.” She observed how students are academically pushed and bonded together, noticing that people do not have to like everyone, but they support everyone.

Fall athletes were tested with Barefoot and Pettit at the beginning and end of the summer in vertical jump, broad jump, 10-yard dash, and pro agility so they could track improvement and create workouts based on the athletes’ abilities. For each sport, they evaluated the metabolic processes and demands and tried to choose movements that would strengthen the muscles used in those areas and also those not involved to make well rounded athletes.  

XC with trainer
Coach Pettit demonstrates an exercise for cross country athletes.

Athletes were tested again towards the end of their seasons to track their progress, and overall, Barefoot said they found major improvements. She left it up to the athletes to increase their weight as they felt necessary. It was up to them to challenge themselves and put in the work to get better. “Athletes got to do the work, I provide method to get there,” Barefoot said.

Varsity Volleyball Coach Amy McLeay has noticed that the work done with the strength trainers is reflected in the athletes’ performance. The volleyball players work with Barefoot twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays for 45 minutes. The strength training is included with their practice time. Coach McLeay has noticed that players are more tired in certain parts of the season from the weight room, but she is patient for it is paying off in the second half of the season. 

Barefoot has recently accepted the position to be the head strength and conditioning coach at Marian. “I am pumped, I love being here,” Barefoot said.

The strength trainers from Nebraska Performance Academy plan to work with Marian athletes through the winter and spring seasons to continue working toward athletic improvement.


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