Photograph by Nigel Oliphant
This year, Berkeley High School (BHS) welcomed a new training coach, Dan Zeng, an undergraduate Cal student, to work with BHS athletes. Zeng currently works with the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams, the boys’ basketball team, the girls’ soccer team, the golf team, and the baseball team.
Zeng said in order to successfully and safely train athletes, he must first ensure that their mobility and body awareness is adequate, so that they can receive strength and conditioning benefits without risk of injury.
Once it is safe for the athletes to do exercises, Zeng moves into workouts specific to the sport. For example, in the preseason, Zeng said, he begins “incorporating a few single joint exercises specific to the sport.” Once the team moves into their playing season, Zeng said training becomes very light and he focuses on helping athletes recover from practices. To do this, he recommends flexibility and mobility centered exercises and maintaining basic core conditioning.
Many BHS athletes agree that Coach Dan’s training helps them become better athletes. Emmet Burk, a junior and captain of the boys’ golf team, said, “As an athlete I feel like the weight room has helped me do better in my sport. As Coach Dan gives the golf team workouts, we progress in our skills. Whether it be fundamentals or specifics, workouts help golf players develop in all facets of the game.” Burk also mentioned that the team dynamics of the golf team have improved through their time together in the weight room, because they all want each other to succeed to make the team better as a whole.
Girls’ lacrosse players Mia Jeffery and Leticia Pereira, both juniors, agreed that going to the weight room has helped the girls’ lacrosse team prepare for the upcoming season. Jeffery said that having conditioning before the season starts will give the team an advantage because they can focus on other skills during the season. Additionally, they both said that weight room has allowed the lacrosse team to become closer. “Working out as a team has allowed us to become closer friends, which improves our dynamic on the field. Also, from weight room, we recognize our strengths and weaknesses as a whole and individually which is good insight to have before the season,” Jeffery said. Pereira added that weight room is a space in which they can encourage their teammates, which they don’t have as much time to do during the playing season because it’s such a busy time.
Zeng said he truly enjoys his job because the student athletes he trains are “young enough to be able to learn at an incredible rate, but old enough to ask inquisitive questions that can get [him] thinking and help [him] further [his] learning as well.” He added that when athletes are young, but have incredible work ethic and the ability to put aside their ego to learn from everyone around them, it is very rewarding to watch what they can accomplish. “Even over the course of a few months I’ve seen this development in some of my athletes and it really makes me proud to have been a coach in their life,” Zeng said.