When Leslie Cordova-Trujillo was an athlete competing for St. Michael’s High School in the early- to mid-1990s, she did not know about the finer points of proper conditioning, weight training and nutrition that could help enhance her performance.
Even though she was a multi-sport athlete — she played volleyball, soccer, basketball and tennis as well as swam as a Lady Horsemen — Cordova-Trujillo didn’t truly understand the importance of preparation for those sports. It wasn’t until she joined the women’s tennis program at the University of New Mexico as a freshman in 1996 that she began her indoctrination.
“We didn’t [know] about those opportunities in high school,” Cordova-Trujillo said. “We didn’t know anything about conditioning and weight training. When I went to UNM to play tennis, I had a woman strength and conditioning coach and I fell in love with it. I got stronger and faster and I lost some weight, and it taught me a lot.”
Cordova-Trujillo and her sister, Deanna Cordova, a 2000 St. Michael’s grad, want to give the youth in Santa Fe, especially girls, an opportunity to learn some of the things they learned when they went to college. So, they will team up to conduct a Strong(h)er Fast(h)er Strength and Conditioning clinic Saturday in Perez-Shelley Gymnasium.
The event is geared toward all young women between the ages of 10 and 19. The siblings will instruct them in two separate three-hour sessions on conditioning and weight-training drills and principles, as well as some mental training to help them learn how to cope with the daily issues that teens encounter.
“We are giving them the fundamentals they need so they can apply [them] to their lives,” Cordova-Trujillo said. “It’s a curriculum for life performance through sports, and we address the journey of a student-athlete — and female student-athletes in particular.”
They are subjects very important to Cordova-Trujillo. Even though she was an accomplished athlete (she was a part of a Class 1A/3A runner-up doubles team in 1995), Cordova-Trujillo dealt with some hefty issues that went beyond her performance. She talked about how her weight was a problem growing up, and it led to some self-esteem issues that she didn’t know how to deal with until she went to college.
“I made a lot of mistakes in high school, as we all do,” Cordova-Trujillo said. “But I was feeling like I was all alone, or trying to be tough or a part of the crowd. I did some things I am not proud of, but it was a part of my journey. I feel like if I can take some of my struggles to help others get through theirs, it’s worth it. I want them to know you can make it through what you’re going through.”
Enticed by what she learned from her strength and conditioning coach, Cordova-Trujillo earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science at UNM, and began her trek that led her to become 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.
Cordova-Trujillo is currently a kinesiology/health professor as well as a strength coach at Los Angeles Harbor College and still works with high school programs in Southern California.
Cordova, who played soccer, basketball and tennis at St. Michael’s, ended up playing basketball at Seattle University before a shoulder injury short-circuited her career. She ended up with a business degree at the school 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-Trujillo said one thing that concerns her is the amount of specialization youth athletes committed themselves to, but they do not balance it with conditioning and weight-training programs that will help prevent injuries.
“We tend to have to specialize by the eighth grade or freshman year at this level, especially if they want to go to college,” Cordova-Trujillo said. “The issue that stems from this is overuse and fatigue because they are doing the same thing. Strength training helps them condition at a different level and a difference plan that deals with that overuse. When these kids are going to tournaments, they are playing eight to 10 games in a two- to three-day period, and they might not be prepared for that. They are going to fatigue and that’s when injuries are going to occur.”
Cordova-Trujillo and Cordova will be on hand at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Casa Chimayo to sign copies of a book they co-wrote with Kimberly Jones, called Dear Her: Letters to Teenage Girls and Young Ladies About Lessons Learned Through Education, Athletics, and Life. Cordova-Trujillo said the book focuses on giving female student-athletes a “playbook” on how to deal with school, athletics and life through their teenage years.
If you go
What: Stong(h)er Fast(h)er Strength and Conditioning Clinic
Where: Perez-Shelley Gymnasium, St. Michael’s High School
Cost: $49 per athlete. Register at strongherfasther.org. Use code “LADYHORSEMEN” and receive a $10 discount.
Schedule: Girls, ages 10-14, 9 a.m.-noon
Ages 14-19, 1-4 p.m.