Mikayla Bohlman went outside of her comfort zone to try something different.
It turned into an enlightening experience.
Bohlman, a recent St. Michael’s graduate who hopes to walk on to the volleyball team at Grand Canyon University in August, went to the inaugural Stong(h)er Fast(h)er Strength and Conditioning Clinic in the Tipton Center at her alma mater Saturday help her stay in shape and give her a taste of what it’s like to be involved in a sports performance clinic. She also wants to major in that field.
For the better part of three hours, hosts Leslie Cordova-Trujillo and Deanna Cordova — who are sisters and St. Michael’s graduates — put the athletes through some challenging workouts designed give the participants a taste of what conditioning and weight training sessions can be like. The clinic also forced some of the athletes to put themselves in situations they weren’t familiar with.
And it opened Bohlman’s eyes about understanding her body better.
“I’ve never done this before,” Bohlman said. “I’ve never focused so much on using my eyes and using different hands. I hadn’t realized I don’t use my left hand for a lot of things. It made me realize I need to use my left hand.”
That was exactly what Cordova-Trujillo and Cordova hoped to achieve with the first clinic of their Stong(h)er Fast(h)er business that they officially just started 10 days ago. It was an intense sessions that went over a variety of topics, from proper warmups, vision training, core workouts to plyometrics and even visualization and meditation. They said the program is designed to get athletes out of their normal training and conditioning comfort zones for their specific sport and offer them an overall workout that makes them better athletes — both physically and mentally.
“Get out of their comfort zone — that’s the main thing we want them to do,” said Cordova-Trujillo, a 1995
St. Michael’s graduate. “In the beginning, the first thing that we do is tie their shoes, then do it with their nondominant hand. What we’re saying is, if you’re doing something that you normally haven’t practiced, it’s going to be odd. You’re going to feel uncomfortable.
“You’re going to feel like, ‘I suck. I can’t do this. This is impossible.’ Just know that you haven’t developed that skill yet. You haven’t practiced it.”
The sisters have strong credentials. Both were multisport athletes at St. Michael’s. Cordova-Trujillo was a tennis standout who walked on to the University of New Mexico, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. She was a strength and conditioning coach at Loyola Marymount University, Notre Dame and the University of Southern California, where she worked with the highly successful football program that won a national title in 2006, and is a kinesiology/health professor as well as a strength coach at Los Angeles Harbor College.
Cordova’s primary sport was basketball, and she played at Seattle University before a shoulder injury short-circuited her career. She earned a business degree at Seattle and got her master’s in kinesiology and exercise science at Cal State-Long Beach. Cordova is the owner of DC Fit 10, a fitness gym in Washington, D.C.
Cordova, a 2000 graduate, said the program is a basic outline for conditioning and weight training so that it didn’t overwhelm the participants with more complex workouts and ideas.
“We didn’t grow on anything here,” Cordova said. “This is very basic. There is so much out there. We also want to do stuff that these girls haven’t done before — like the vision stuff. Not a lot of people do that.”
An example of the vision training was having the pairs pair off and toss a tennis ball, alternating to each other’s hands, while yelling out the letter they see on the ball just as they catch it. They also tossed beanbags to each other while moving their feet at the same time.
Perla Miramontes, who will be an eighth grader at Academy for Technology and the Classics and competes in track and field and basketball, said the clinic was not what she expected.
“I love the way how different the routines and drills are,” Miramontes said. “[The eye-hand coordination drills] was different. I struggled a little bit with it, but if I continue with it, I’ll do better.”
Some of the workouts also had an added impact of improving communication skills as the pairs talk to each other. Ron Drake, the head girls basketball coach at Academy for Technology and the Classics who was on hand to watch the clinic, noted it as he watched the tennis-ball drill, adding that social media has had a negative effect on girls communicating with each other. The sisters concurred.
“The other thing is that coach Drake showed them how they’re like this,” Cordova said, with her head down as if she were texting on her phone. “The thing about it is that it gets your head up. But it also get them going and gets them talking with each other, and it’s a great teamwork drill.”
Cordova-Trujillo and Cordova both said they want to branch the Stong(h)er Fast(h)er program nationally, and their goal is to establish a scholarship fund to help athletes attain their goal of competing at the collegiate level as well as earning a degree. They got part of that off the ground from the money raised from the book they co-authored with fellow trainer Kimberly Jones, Dear Her: Letters to Teenage Girls and Young Ladies About Lessons Learned Through Education, Athletics, and Life. The book focuses on giving female student-athletes a “playbook” on how to deal with school, athletics and life through their teen years.
Both of them said they were never aware they could continue to play in college, and they want to help other athletes realize that they could do it, too.
“With the scholarship, the more money we have, the more lives we would have to touch,” Cordova said.
Count Bohlman and Miramontes as two athletes who already felt their impact.