When opening day of the girls' high school volleyball season opens up, it would be tough to argue that the Forestville Lady Hornets will be the most well-conditioned team in the area.
For three days this week, Forestville coach Jack Dugan has passed the coaching torch to Elevation Combat Sports Academy owner Dave Harriger for some intense mixed martial arts training.
Thursday afternoon the team did ladder drills on the hill between Steele Hall on the Fredonia State campus for cardio drills. After that, the team went to Elevation Combat Sports Academy and did some MMA training specifically designed for volleyball players.
OBSERVER?Photos by Craig Harvey
Above,?Forestville’s Emily Gilman, left, and Lynanne Woolley, right, flip a 400-pound tire together at Elevation Combat Sports Academy.
"I designed this specific workout for volleyball players," Harriger said. "I am working on strengthening their shoulders and legs. We are doing a lot of strength building and core exercises. We are incorporating MMA drills with old school weight lighting. It's the perfect combination."
The Lady Hornets flipped tires, grappled and incorporated teamwork drills.
"I feel like it brings our team together more," Forestville's Sierra Tweedie said. "It's a unity exercise and gives us the chance to condition together."
Each year Dugan tries to find new techniques to keep his players from falling into the same routine. So when Harriger offered to put the Lady Hornets through MMA drills, Dugan couldn't resist.
"I appreciate Dave and the opportunity he is giving my players," he said. "I try to keep things fresh and mix it up. This is off the charts and out of the ordinary. It seems to be working as far as team building and pushing the envelope and go outside their comfort zone."
"It feels good," Forestville's Cherish Pope added. "We are pushing extra hard this year and hopefully we can win our division. It's hard, but in confidence building and team building, it's the best. I have learned we can overcome anything as long as we work as a team."
Tweedie noted she has seen a difference already as her teammates are hitting harder and passing better.
"They are the hardest working girls I have ever worked with," Harriger said. "I have coached swimming, basketball and soccer, and never seen girls work like this. I have never seen a team work as good as this. They communicate well. There is no fighting or arguing. There is a good team atmosphere. It's been a pleasure working with the girls. They are a lot of fun. They are positive and encouraging each other. They know what's expected of them and they get results. I'm looking forward to seeing them play some games this season."