Kerr, strength and conditioning staff keep athletes on toes
April 23, 2020 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University Club Sports Director of Strength and Conditioning Chris Kerr and his staff have had to take proactive steps in response to COVID-19 in order to continue workout sessions remotely.
With the majority of the Flames and Lady Flames having returned home to complete their spring semesters online, they have resorted to virtual interaction with individual student-athletes, tailoring workouts to their particular needs rather than training teams in group settings inside the strength and conditioning facilities on campus.
"We send emails out to all the individual athletes and give them workouts based on No. 1, their location, and No. 2, the equipment they have available at the house, since every athlete is quarantined," Kerr said. "We have to program geographically. For some guys in northern Wisconsin and Canada, it snowed (on Sunday) and they are stuck indoors. For others who are in Florida and Texas where it's warm, they can work out outside."
He said while some may have a full gym in their basements, others have no access to strength training equipment.
"We have to get very creative with body weight exercises for those who don't have resources at home and continue on with weight training plans for those select athletes that do have equipment on hand," Kerr said. "We are going to take ideas and concepts, all this hard work that we're putting in right now and it's only going to make us a better strength and conditioning department."
|Ross Garner is a strength and conditioning coach.|
Kerr works directly with student-athletes from the Flames' and Lady Flames' Division I hockey teams as well as the men's and women's wrestling team, modifying training plans to cater to athletes dealing with injuries.
"I can say for sure I am the busiest that I've ever been because instead of writing three workouts, I'm essentially writing 75 multiple times a month," he said. "It takes a lot of time, and you have to be incredibly organized between the incoming emails and the outgoing programs."
Kerr's strength and conditioning staff is taking the same online approach to training their athletes — Ross Garner coaches men's swimming, men's and women's beach volleyball, and men's indoor volleyball, while graduate assistants Dallas Johnson trains Division II men's and women's hockey and Chris Craven works with men's DIII hockey, men's and women's crew, and figure skaters and synchronized skaters.
"We definitely have risen to the challenge, and I am extremely happy with my staff, what they've been able to accomplish," Kerr said. "It's been a challenge, but we're doing really well so far."
He and his staff are looking forward to Club Sports student-athletes returning to campus for the fall semester, when they will have access to a brand new strength and conditioning facility in the former Toys ‘R' Us building in Candlers Station Shopping Center, across the street from Liberty Christian Academy.
"I am hoping with this new weight room we can change the way we operate now that we will have a large enough facility to accommodate all the Club Sports teams and their athletes," Kerr said, noting that teams such as men's lacrosse with more than 30 members have had to divide their workouts into two groups. "It's going to be a very big area and we are going to do be able to do great things."
He is hopeful the facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including some used machines acquired from the former Williams Stadium Football Operations Center (FOC), which was recently renovated and renamed the Liberty Football Center (LFC).
"In order to train all of our club sports athletes properly, we still need to purchase equipment that has multi-use purposes such as double-sided racks, as they have in the (Liberty Athletics Center) LAC weight room, which allows multiple athletes to use that piece of equipment at the same time," Kerr said.
He is waiting to find out what kind of floor the facility will have, which will determine what types of exercises Club Sports student-athletes will be able to perform in the future.
"We are trying to get the same floor that we have in the LaHaye Ice Center, with a rubber floor area and a turf floor area," Kerr said, noting that is what is available in the Athletics weight rooms in the LFC, LAC, and Vines Center. "That would give us many, many options to utilize on the turf, including medicine balls, plyometric equipment, and sleds. If we don't, we will have to get super creative with workouts."