Liberty Bell High School has launched an innovative program, catering to high school-aged girls, in the remodeled conditioning center above the gymnasium on the Methow Valley campus.
Thanks to the efforts of several female athletes, Wednesday afternoons each week are reserved for women only from 12:30-2 p.m. for lifting and conditioning.
The mid-week time slot lines up with the routine early school dismissal on that day and affords girls complete access to equipment and facilities, under the supervision of strength and conditioning coach Jeremiah Wickens.
School nurse Adrianna Vanbianchi also helps out and was an early driver in support of a group of girls frustrated with difficulty in accessing the facility and equipment.
While no formal complaint had been lodged with the school or district, some girls had said their ability to access the facility was hindered by the constant presence of boys in the center.
“We just wanted to be ahead of the issue as a proactive measure,” said Liberty Bell Activities Director Michael Wilbur.
Vanbianchi, a conditioning enthusiast, helped put together a meeting with Wilbur and “a few girls who had expressed a concern,” according to Wilbur. He was easily convinced that being in an all-female environment, even for just 90 minutes a week, would be a welcoming and encouraging situation for girls seeking the additional conditioning and training.
“That would be a good thing for our overall program,” added Wilbur.
The first day, without much advanced notice, drew 11 girls to the facility. Vanbianchi was excited for the fledgling program immediately after the first session.
“It was amazing,” she said. “I’m so pumped! Eleven girls with only a few hours’ notice, and being able to do free weights.”
Mountain Lion athletes Rio Lott, MJ Mihalic and Ruby McCarthy were also enthusiastic about their experience that day and said it was nice to have the center to themselves for that hour and a half. They agreed that the all-girls environment was helpful in accessing and using the equipment and not having to worry about waiting for a piece of equipment to be available, and was just more comfortable overall.
The program will continue through the spring sports season, continuing the girls-only sessions into a summer training program. Wilbur said there will probably be some schedule changes for summer, but that there will be time set aside for female athletes to do weight training during the summer months as well.