Heavy Lifting Gives Student-Athletes a Competitive Edge

As high school athletes work toward the college recruitment process, Pali students are turning to alternative options to enhance their training. 

Junior Gabi Kawasaki, a setter and defensive specialist (DS) on the girls’ varsity volleyball team, is one of many students who trains outside of school.

Kawasaki trains at Pali’s new barbell gym, Palisades Barbell Brigade, which is located on the football field. Trainer Jesse Poller, a former Pali student, transformed the outside football gym into an after-school training program for Pali athletes and students who want to “lift and get stronger,” Kawasaki said.

Kawasaki trains after school from 6 to 6:30 p.m. with the rest of her teammates on the volleyball team and said that she often sees different student-athletes and other students working out. 

Varsity lacrosse defensive starter Rob Lennartson, a senior, also uses outside training facilities. Lennartson said he used to work out at Pali’s weight room but switched to the Palisades-Malibu YMCA while the campus weight room is unavailable due to construction. He added that he prefers the YMCA gym over the Pali gym.

Lennartson said, “I work out mainly to be stronger for lacrosse so that I am able to compete at a higher level and to prepare for the season.” 

Senior Nate Sterling, a catcher for Pali’s varsity baseball team, also trains outside of school. Sterling works out daily at the Deuce Gym, also known as the “Dawg Pound,” with baseball trainer Kyle Henmi who coaches high school and college athletes. 

Sterling said that he began training at the Dawg Pound last summer, adding that he has been supplementing Pali practices with additional training at other facilities “since the day [he] stepped onto Pali’s campus.” 

These supplementary sessions led to a busier schedule Sterling explained, forcing him to train at 6 a.m. every morning in order to manage his schoolwork and other responsibilities.

On average, Sterling trains 25 hours per week between his regular baseball practice and outside training. Waking up at 5:15 a.m and finishing practice at 7:10 a.m, Sterling dedicates his mornings to alternative training. 

“[My] end goal is the professionals,” Sterling concluded. “When you’re on a team you have 25 guys doing the exact same thing, and you have to find some way to separate yourself… 0.001 percent of high school players get to where I want to go [the pros], so I can’t be doing the same thing as 20 other guys.”