Bemidji coaches encourage more participation in Lumberjacks' strength program

Jun. 7—BEMIDJI — There's more to improving as an athlete than the work put in during practices.

Bemidji High School strength and conditioning coaches Bryan Stoffel and Ben Kinne are spreading that message to area athletes at the middle and high school levels through the Sanford Strength Program.

"The goal is to get kids more explosive, more athletic and more prepared for their upcoming season, and we do that in a number of different ways," Stoffel said. "Whether that be total body strength training, or whether that be in our speed and agility portion, we are working toward getting kids not only capable of absorbing force but also applying force."

The Sanford Strength Program is already underway and lasts roughly seven weeks. Sessions are flexible to each student-athlete, offering times ranging from 6:30 to 10 a.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at BHS and Bemidji Community Arena.

Athletes have the option to attend twice each week for $65, three times for $95 or four times for $125.

"There's nothing better than having a whole group in there that's working together, sacrificing, doing the little things to help your teammates," Kinne said. "Ideally what we'd love to have is every athlete that we have in Bemidji High School be a part of it."

Stoffel and Kinne each emphasized the importance of this program to not only help with injury prevention but also raise the collective competitiveness of BHS athletics in their respective sections. Greater Bemidji area athletes can also sign up for the program.

"There's a price to pay to attain that level of success," Stoffel said. "It takes commitment and dedication when it comes to training to catch the competition that's naturally more athletic than you are. And to do that, to close that gap, it takes that dedication, that commitment of the athletes, as well as the coaches, as well as the entire athletic department."

The summer strength program is encouraged for all athletes regardless of what sport they play, even if they don't play a sport.

"We really want to give this opportunity to all kids," Kinne said. "Whether you're in gymnastics, tennis or any sport, we have a program for you. We make sure that you have a spot and will get you working on whatever is going to make you the best athlete moving into your season."

Stoffel and Kinne also aim to make the weight room a place of acceptance for all skill levels.

"What we are trying to accomplish at a younger level is to eliminate that fear or intimidation of the weight room," Stoffel said. "It's a space for everyone. And no matter what skill level when they come in, no matter what sport they come in from, the things that we do in the weight room apply to all, and they're open for all."

While the Sanford Strength Program ends after seven weeks, BHS coaches hope it can bridge the gap for more athletes to train on their own.

"(Strength and conditioning) teaches life lessons," Kinne said. "We want to promote healthy lifestyles. Working out is one of those things that can be a lifelong thing if you get into it. A lot of what you do (in the weight room) is to try to prevent injuries, getting ourselves strong enough to compete and making those gains are necessary."

To sign up for the summer program, student-athletes or parents can call Kinne at

(218) 333-4675

or send an email to either