Hawks rising together with new weight room

Sean Cordy - Sports
Head football coach George Ashman speaks with players before ending a lifting session in the new Woodward-Granger weight room. PHOTO BY SEAN CORDY/THE PERRY CHIEF

Woodward-Granger athletics have been on the rise over the last few years, and now the Hawks are ready to make that next step with an updated weight room to land in for the upcoming school year.

It’s been a long time coming for head football coach and weight room coordinator George Ashman.

“Everything in here is brand new. So basically it’s a brand new update,” Ashman said.

This is something he said he’s wanted over his 12 years with the school. He said before the update, he had to get donations from local colleges, friends, or make equipment from scratch. But over the last two years with activities director Matt Eichhorn, the dream quickly turned into reality. With a new set of team-colored weights and machines in place at the start of June, the offseason program could jump out to a sprint.

Before Eichhorn stepped into the picture, Ashman said there were other directors that wanted to get things in place but the pieces came slowly and were often secondhand.

Ashman said he credits Eichhorn getting the right pieces in place after he came in with a fresh initiative to move forward when he started the job in July 2017, “He’s the one that came and said, ‘Hey coach, what do you think we need?’”

Eichhorn said he came in and wanted the students to have a facility to “feel proud of.” Along with working with Ashman, middle school physical education teacher Jered Kuberski also got involved in an effort to get students ready for the transition to high school in the future.

After visiting a number of schools around the state and a powerlifting specialist, a proposal to the school board was given in October 2018 and a final bid was approved in February. With a final estimated cost of $125,000, they secured half from donations from the Woodward-Granger Booster Club and middle school PTO, Granger Motors, the Myrna Mayfield Grant, and sports team fundraisers.

With the weight room in place, the final pieces coming into place soon with a new air conditioner — Eichhorn said he feels there’s more enthusiasm from students who will also be safer with new equipment.

The large move forward in such a short span of time also doubles as an example for the student athletes coming in for workouts. Ashman said workouts that would normally take up to 75 minutes can now be trimmed to under 40 minutes with the new setup in place.

“Now everybody’s got a station. They come in and you do everything you can do. You can bench. You can squat. You can do your clings,” Ashman said, continuing to list every major muscle to work on, all in one designated area. “You’re never short of weights.”

In addition to having more efficient areas, there’s also more equipment in place that has helped streamline the process and get more groups through so there’s less waiting involved. They have increased the squat racks from two to eight multipurpose racks, added improved platforms, a machine designed specifically for improving running performance and form, and new free weights among dozen of other changes.

All the changes have helped boost the gym’s enrollment numbers, getting in over 90 percent of the football team and over half of the students signed up for other sports have walked in so far.

Quarterback Keith Braunschweig got straight to work when the gym was in place June 6, coming in as often as possible to work with the football team before practices officially start in August. He said like any other year, it’s been a good way to “bring everybody together as a team and build that chemistry” but has seen the improved equipment expedite that process.

“Every day it’s open, just trying to get better. That way, we can do some (bigger) things in the fall,” he said. “You’re helping your team out just by getting stronger.”

He also added he’s seen attendance numbers increase throughout all sports as well, “Helping us more as a school full of athletes now.”