May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Orange Lutheran athletes get a new game plan on how to be ready when sports resume

Christian Lozon talks with Orange Lutheran baseball players during a training session before athletics were cancelled. (Photo courtesy Orange Lutheran sports information)

During typical spring athletic seasons, Christian Lozon would be training Orange Lutheran High School athletes with daily in person sessions.

But that approach changed drastically when the coronvirus crisis struck and spring sports were cancelled througout the state.

So Lozon, the program’s head of sports performance and two other full-time staff members had to totally alter their game plan during the physical education period for teams.

“The biggest challenge is our connectiveness,” Lozon said. “Let’s say there is a class of 30 kids on a team and I see them two to three days a week and communicating with them is simple and easy and effective.

“Now, it’s just trying to keep that communication and connectiveness, that’s been the biggest push is being connected with our athletes and hoping they stay motivated, because if you’re a senior and your season just got cancelled, you’re lacking for motivation or maybe you’re a little heartbroken and pretty upset.

“But there is always something on the horizon. For a senior, it could be what college are they going to and what are they getting ready for and it could be athletics and it could not be, it could just be academics. But there is always something next and we have to prepare and that’s the mentality, we always have to prepare for what’s next.”

For the incoming sophomores, juniors and seniors, the next step is the upcoming season, although it’s not been determined when that will be. Athletic officials are monitoring the affects of the crisis throughout the state before determining when seasons will start.

So, with the help of modern technology techniques including Zoom conferencing, Lozon has been able to continue communication and help athletes prepare for future seasons.

“First of all our coaches are phenomenal, I’ve really seen what our coaches do and the time they put in,” Lozon said. “There is at least one virtual Zoom meeting a week with each team and a lot of the coaches are doing multiple, so as a staff, we’re just being involved in those meetings.”

Each athlete gets a training game plan from Lozon.

“We are continuing to send our athletes programming for a remote setting so it can be like a bodyweight only training program with modified equipment or if they have something special, we just write up a personal program for that individual,” Lozon said. “So that way they’re still exercising and still staying fit and giving them a mental break from school since they’re doing all their school work from home, so the fact they can get out and get some exercise and blow off some steam is beneficial.”

Exercises can be done in small spaces, such as the athletes’ garages and backyards “something that’s safe and effective where they don’t actually have to leave their house,” Lozon said. “My staff has been awesome and the coaches that I work with are just tremendous and continually uploading new workouts and new information and making things competitive.

“We’ve created competitions among teams so that way there is still some incentive to continue to train.”

Lozon checks up on how each athlete does through an app.

“We can monitor and run reports through that, Lozon said. “What our coaches are great about is that they had athletes partner up with each other or we do group workouts via Zoom, Lozon said. “Our kids are very resilient but I’ve been blown away with how our kids have been responding and giving us feedback. I’m really, really proud of our athletes.”

Weight training and other training techniques vary by sport.

“There are different trends that we see in each sport and we taylor our programming toward that, some of it is similar and there are personal touches we add for other sports,” Lozon said. “Mobility is a big one for our offensive linemen and defensive lineman.”

Video conferences have been effective, Lozon said.

“Zoom has been huge, every meeting we have with our athletes is on Zoom,” Lozon said. “I was on one with football who had 60 attending, baseball has 50 to 60, girls basketball has somewhere in the 30’s, boys soccer 20 to 30, girls soccer 20 to 30, so we’re getting a great turnout.”

Lozon said he and other athletic officials realize the impact of the sports shutdown, but emphasized they want Lancer athletes to be ready when sports do resume.

“It’s unfortunate the circumstances and we don’t want to downplay what’s going on around us and in our society, but we also don’t want it to completely deter us from what our mission is,” he said.

Lozon remains optimistic about the future for high school sports.

“Myself, our staff and other sports performance staffs in our league and in Southern California and across the country are really leaning on decision makers, like CIF, Lozon said. “I think they will make the right decisions in being cautious to when we go back, just based on what we’ve heard in meetings, I think they will make the right decisions and they won’t rush anything too quickly.

“What it changes for us is just our set-up. We know what we’re going to have to do to condition our athletes to get prepared, and we know what that’s going to look like and it’s just how we go about it.”

That includes guidelines on social distancing, which would affect how many students could be in the weightroom or classroom at a time. Players’ safety will be a high priority, he said.

“I’ve heard so many of our coaches say we’re going to come back from this one percent better or five percent better or 10 percent better and what does it take to do that,” he said. “We try and educate our coaches and our athletes this is what could happen if you do nothing and when you come back, your rate of injury risk is up expondentially and no one wants that.”

In a normal spring, Lozon would be working with athletes in baseball, softball and boys and girls lacrosse and also helping football players prepare for the fall season. They would also be running off-season programs for other sports.

“It’s multiple systems all working at one time,” he said. “We have about 60 to 75 minutes, and we take our kids through everything …. when they come in, they stretch and we take them through a dynamic warm-up and do our injury prevention work and then we get into our training.”

If school were in session and athletics still going, Orange Lutheran’s football team, coached by JP Presley, would be going through spring drills preparing for the season opener scheduled for Friday, Aug. 28 vs. Grace Brethren at Orange Coast College.

“We would be in week two right now of spring football, we’re definitely trying to make the best of that,” Lozon said. “Our football team is doing a tremendous job in the off-season making huge strides and getting ready so we’re trying to keep them mentally prepared and mentally in the game.”

Lozon said he looks forward to returning to school and a sense of normalcy.

“We all can’t wait to get back and see our athletes and all our co-workers. Were definitely looking forward to when that day comes,” he said.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com