GVSU students take part in Detroit Red Wings offseason training

Forty-four students participated in a week-long camp working with Red Wings players

By Natalie Longroy | 10/12/16 11:09pm

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Many students during their time at Grand Valley State hope to have a hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

What better way than to work alongside a professional sports team?

With hockey season has been fast approaching, teams have been preparing by having preseason training camps throughout the summer.

Forty-four exercise science and athletic training students spent time in Traverse City, Michigan from Sept. 21-28 to assist the Detroit Red Wings staff conduct medical exams and physical fitness tests on the players. Only students who have taken and passed the exercise science lab MOV 420 were selected to go to the camp.

GVSU has been working with the Red Wings' staff since 2014. Ross Sherman, an exercise science professor, said Red Wings’ strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar asked him if students would like to come and help with testing players fitness at the preseason training camp. GVSU has now helped a total of seven different camps.

GVSU is the only school to help at the preseason camps. The faculty and students have created a relationship with the Red Wings staff and, in turn, help students put what they learn into real-life experiences.

“The level of student involvement with tests used and procedures was much more advanced than during previous camps,” Sherman said. “This relates to the level of trust that the Red Wings now place in our students, which I put on the organization's positive experiences from previous camps.”Comparing athletes’ abilities of different sports is like comparing apples to oranges. Each individual is equipped with a certain build and potential.

“Hockey players, when not given away by their hair flow or toothless smile, seem to have a pretty variable build,” said GVSU student Skylar Schoen. “Coming from a sport where the motions and muscles of running and jumping aren't utilized day to day, it was interesting to see how this affected the players in the different fitness tests such as the 10-yard sprint and broad and vertical jump.”

Since this was at a professional level, everything about the training and fitness was purposefully thought out.

“You can tell the training staff cares about each individual athlete's well-being, and that is what makes them such a successful team,” Schoen said.

Students were stationed at different fitness tests starting at 6:55 a.m. Each station worked a different part of the body or showed a different ability.

“I was measuring the athletes’ broad jump during the camp so probably the most memorable moment was at one point two of the athletes were getting really competitive and trying to one-up one another,” said GVSU student Samora Nesbitt. “They were talking smack and just having fun with it and it really made their personalities come out.”

This kind of experience working with professional athletes reassured students why they chose this career path. Some are still unsure of which direction of athletic training or exercise science they want to pursue, but all are grateful to get the experience.

Schoen said Kadar advised the students to get themselves out there and make connections.

“I think this experience will help me volunteer to participate with other extracurricular activities, or to help anyone in general with research and studies,” said GVSU student Michelle Arnett. “Any additional experience I can put myself in will only be beneficial and further expand my knowledge.”

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