By Andrew Chirico
Winning championships isn’t something that just happens overnight, which the athletic programs at Washington College understand. That is where the Director for Sports Performance, Jonnie Jenkins and his staff come into play.
The Sports Performance Program is responsible for training all 17 varsity athletic teams, which includes off-season training, conditioning, and in-season work. The department consists of Jenkins, his Assistant Sports Performance Coach, Jake Alvarez, and three Sports Performance Interns: Tyler Spence, Tyler German, and Nick Sparacino. He also has two student assistants in seniors Paige Cahoon and Maddie Mullen.
Jenkins and his staff help athletes with anything ranging from flexibility, injury prevention, speed, agility, strength, and power. When an athlete comes to WC, he or she is taken care of for the next four years as they are given a training program that is best suited for their athletic goals.
As an alumni of the college, Jenkins graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in history and a focus around Secondary Education, all while playing on the soccer team. After Jenkins graduated WC, he was offered a position as an assistant coach for the team, where he gladly took it, despite his future plans of becoming a history teacher and a coach.
It was during his time as an assistant coach where Jenkins was introduced to Michael Duquette, former Director of the Lifetime Fitness Center.
“Mike took me under his wing and I started working with the teams that he was working with. I paid for myself to go out to a conference with him, which was the National Strength and Conditioning Association conference and once I went to that conference, I was hooked,” Jenkins said. “Then when Mike left for the Norfolk Academy, I was just a young naive kid that applied to the job. Luckily, Dr. Matthews gave me an opportunity and said yes. Before that, I had gotten certifications in the industry.”
The changes that Jenkins has brought the Sports Performance Program over the past 8 years are immense. When he first started at WC, he was only training 4 of the 17 sports.
“That culture from 8 years ago has changed significantly to now. Most of our teams are on 3 day a week sessions, 4 days a week, sometimes even 5 days a week,” Jenkins said. “They wake up at 5:30 in the morning, and they get all of their training done in the early morning hours when really the College lights haven’t been turned on yet. It’s pretty amazing because from an attendance standpoint, we are anywhere from 95-100 percent attendance in every single session.”
Those early morning sessions mean Jenkins has an extra early start to his day, as he lives in Annapolis. “I wake up at 4 a.m. every day and get in by 5-5:15 a.m. Our athletes start at 5:45. From 5:15 to 5:45, we are prepping and setting up the weight room,” Jenkins said. “We talk about what we’re going to do with every team that is filtering through that day. From 5:45 until 8:30, we are with our group trainings, which are mainly are teams filtering in, in large numbers. We pretty much train any given day anywhere between 80-150 athletes in that morning.”
With the hard work that all of the athletes put in, both in and out of their seasons, Jenkins is pleased with the effort that’s given on a daily basis. As a final statement, Jenkins wanted to express how blessed he is to have the group of athletes that he has.
“I hope that our athletes read this, because I want them to know about how proud I am of them. They have worked their tails off. I spoke to a majority of them at the beginning of the year and told them I want us to win conference championships and be a contender in this tough conference,” he said. “I said we have to change our mentality, our work ethic, and we have to believe. They have done that thus far. We saw with some success with men’s soccer and I hope that we see that with our upcoming winter teams.
I am truly proud of them. They are getting stronger and faster. They are buying in, doing everything they can to maximize their life as a student athlete. I know how much other things in their lives they have going on. I hope they are enjoying it as much as I am watching them succeed,” he said.