Together with Fix FX at the Alpha Tennis & Fitness of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Jr Penguins will work to improve the Jr A Penguins players’ overall health, strength, quickness, speed and core mental focus. “The goal is to provide a structured program by strength and conditioning professionals to enhance the player’s on-ice performance,” Head Coach Brian Cersosimo said. “The club hopes that the program will also offer other benefits, including injury prevention and rehabilitation, by improving their hockey-specific movement patterns.”
Coach Cersosimo and members of his staff — Clint Hagmaier in particular — will work alongside members of Fit FX staff to monitor and chart players’ progress throughout the season. Additionally, Hagmaier will head up the Jr A Penguin Final Tryout Camp Combine together with staff from Fit FX to evaluate a player’s endurance, speed, agility, strength and power, flexibility and reaction time. All will now be part of the player evaluation process prior to the team’s final cuts.
“Because the players range in age, size and strength (ages 16-20), they will be placed in groups according to age and ability,” said Josh Berthold, Head Trainer and Fitness Manager for Fit FX. “Fit FX will prepare a structured and scientifically-organized program that builds the athlete from the foundation up through proven physiological principles and exercise methodology designed specifically for developing athletes. The long-term outlook for the program is to run throughout the season using an integrated-periodization model that allows improvements all year round — with primary emphasis during the postseason to peak — based on game and practice schedules.”
In addition to the team’s three full-ice practices weekly, a fourth night will be added that is dedicated to strength and conditioning with Fit FX instruction at Alpha Tennis and Fitness. The facility is conveniently located right behind the Blade Runners Ice Complex in Harmarville where all the on-ice activities take place. As members, the players will also have access to the fitness center throughout the week for any additional workouts.
Fit FX will provide the Jr A Penguins with a program that will be instructed by certified professional strength and conditioning coach and trainer Matthew Proskin. Proskin holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Exercise Science, Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Proskin is also a former Strength Coach for the University of Pittsburgh and has worked directly with Division I athletes. He had played a key role in preparing for — and winning — Big East Championships. As a strength coach, Proskin has prepared scores of high school athletes to qualify for WPIAL events and state-level events — many of whom having gone on to win these events, set records, achieve Olympic trial cuts, and compete in college at Division I, II and III levels. Proskin has worked with a large range of athletes in a variety of sports.
This program is another defining reason why the Pittsburgh Jr Penguins are a step ahead of other local travel hockey programs. By taking this step, the club will be taking their athletes’ physical development to another level by introducing their motor patterns and conditioning to become more efficient and compliment their on-ice skills.
“We are excited about an opportunity to be part of an exclusive program with Pittsburgh Jr Penguins.” Berthold said. “The program would include a 10-minute group dynamic warm-up, flexibility and conditioning leading into 40 minutes of circuit training comprised of 1-2 minute rotating stations in strength, core, speed and agility; and a 10-minute group cool down.”
With the the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) recent acquisition of the league that the Jr A Penguins compete in, it has become a direct feeder to the Tier II Jr A level.
“We see this new relationship with Fit FX as one of many steps that the club will be taking to elevate the program we offer,” owner and operator of the Pittsburgh Jr Penguins Kevin Morrison said. “It is a significant part of our efforts that will lead to an increase in our placement of the area’s top academic athletes to the next level in the NAHL, where they have a legitimate opportunity to be placed into the NCAA D-I and D-III programs.”
The NAHL is second only to the USHL in player placement to the NCAA programs. “This was proven with the recent NAHL Player Entry Draft results,” Morrison said. “We had five of our top 2010-11 players drafted, with four of those being selected in the first seven rounds. With our recent affiliation and connection to the NAHL, we feel that now is the time to begin taking steps that demonstrate our program will provide the best opportunity for advancement in the Tri-state area. To accomplish that, we need to re-think what we are doing for our player base to ensure that they are getting the most out of their development while competing on one of our program teams.”
In addition to their Flagship Jr A Penguin team, the Jr Penguins will ice teams at Tier I Midget AAA this year at the U16 and U18 levels.