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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Viking athletics enters new era with a game-changing program, coach

Strength and conditioning coach Anthony Thomas sets up the weight room in preparation for another session with the Paly Football Team. According to Athletic Instructional Leader Peter Diepenbrock, Palo Alto High School is late to the game in implementing a conditioning program. “Most, if not all of the top athletic teams in the area have had a strength and conditioning program for many, many years,” said Diepenbrock. “We are very, very late.”(Photo: Joy Tan)

Metallic clangs, clinks, and scraping noises echo throughout the weight room as strength and conditioning coach Anthony Thomas puts another weight on the bar. One might expect that students are eager to go home after hours of being cooped up in a classroom. However,  a  few dozen off-season football players remain after school ready for another session and a chance to improve.

According to sophomore JV football player Lara Saslow, she has enjoyed the new program.

“I really like this new strength coach,” Saslow said. “There hasn’t been enough time for visible improvement yet but I like the new routines and the new ways we do things.”

The strength and conditioning program is led by Thomas, the newest addition to Paly’s athletic staff.

Thomas said he hopes students learn not only the techniques to better their agility and strength but also how to train more efficiently.

“I call it slow cooking,” Thomas said. “I train them [students] hard but I train them smart. We start with what I call a base phase of mobility, dynamic flexibility, and strength. Then we transition to a program that works on muscle size and then you transition into ‘pure strength’; muscle strength; and then finally ‘power,’ which is using a little lighter weight but you’re moving the bar fast.”

Thomas has 35 years of experience and was an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Bay Area Panthers — an indoor football team. However, he said that the program he’s providing at Palo Alto High School will not diverge too much into specific sports.

“There are some exercises and sets based on position,” Thomas said. “I can do something called sport specificity, but at the high school level I keep it basic.”

Sophomore varsity football player Zeke Maples said the training program was helpful after his first week partaking in it.

“Coach Thomas is bringing a lot of good things to help us get past that threshold for the NorCal round in the playoffs [next year],” Maples said.

According to Athletic Instructional Leader Peter Diepenbrock, coaches of athletic teams can decide if their teams will use this program.

“Coaches are made aware that these are the times that they can bring their teams in, and then they sign up for the different slots,” Dipenbrock said.

According to Diepenbrock most of the top athletic schools in the area have had strength and conditioning programs for many years, so Paly is late to the game. 

“Catholic high schools have them [strength and conditioning programs],” Diepenbrock said, “I know [Junipero] Serra [High School] has had their strength and conditioning coach for around 15 years,”

The program can be used by school sports teams on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before and after school from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m

The football team was the first to participate in Thomas’ training. When other sports begin pre-season or off-season training, a more structured system will be available.

“Whatever sport I am training, my objective is to make him or her [the student] better at that particular sport,” Thomas said. “I’m not creating bodybuilders, I am creating better athletes.” 

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About the Contributors
Ava Knapp
Ava Knapp, News Editor
Ava Knapp (Class of 2026) joined The Paly Voice her sophomore year. She does cross country/track and field and plays the piano.
Joy Tan
Joy Tan, Sports Editor, Multimedia Editor
Joy Tan (class of 2026) joined The Voice in her sophomore year and enjoys playing volleyball and taking photos.

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