Preparing High School Athletes for the Next Level at Lockport Township High School
When you walk into the weightroom at Lockport Township (Illinois) High School, it’s hard not to miss the pennants covering one of the walls. Dozens of them tout both big name colleges like Alabama, Ohio State and Nebraska and smaller schools like Dominican and Milwaukee School of Engineering. A few represent professional sports teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Baltimore Ravens.
So why plaster a wall with pennants? They are signed by student-athletes who started at Lockport and continued their athletic pursuits at the next level. The pennant wall serves as inspiration to those using the weightroom now.
“One of the big things we did in recent years is put that pennant wall up,” said Joe Cunnane, the head athletics trainer at Lockport. “That’s a focus point for the kids to understand where kids from this room have moved on to. That they have done it and part of the reason they did is because they had the commitment to do the things in the weightroom to help them move forward on to bigger and better things athletically. That really starts to bring the whole thing (together) about the 120-year tradition of this high school’s athletic program.”
The athletic programs at Lockport, which has nearly 3,700 students, have claimed 18 Illinois state championships in team sports. Alumni include notables like current Philadelphia 76er Richaun Holmes, former MLBer and current Cubs broadcaster Ron Coomer and Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
The Porters’ weightroom is built for performance. Sixteen Hammer Strength HD Athletic Power Racks and a smattering of plate-loaded equipment provide plenty of strength training options for Lockport students.
“We started powerlifting class and athletic training classes about 21 years ago now,” explained Cunnane. “It has been an evolution in the weightroom and that’s kind of been the process here. We’re really happy with how it has all developed over the years and proud of where it has come from.”
Cunnane has been the strength training guru at Lockport for 24 years, which makes him one of the pioneers when it comes to high school strength and conditioning. In March he was named as the nation's most valuable athletic trainer of 2017 by Training & Conditioning Magazine.
"My philosophy towards coaching is obviously (focused on) work ethic and technical aspects," explained Cunnane. "As an athletic trainer I also have a pretty intense focus on injury prevention. And obviously strength training is not just about improving performance but it’s also to minimize injury. So when we’re in the weightroom I’m pretty intense about making sure things are done correctly."