Augustana football plays with more than just balls



Augustana football players look tough in public, but little do people know that they are trained not only to be strong for the games but also to be fabulous.

Head coach Jerry Olszewski has added rhythmic gymnastics as a part of the team’s training for the upcoming season this fall. He believes the new portion of training will help bring a new start for his team.

Sophomore CJ Ham agrees with the new beginning for the team.

“Everything is fresh for the next season. New coach, new strategy and new spirit,” Ham said. Coach Olszewski will make us better by adding rhythmic gymnastics.”

The new rhythmic gymnastics training includes using apparatus such as hoops, balls and ribbon.

People may find it strange to imagine “tough” football players doing rhythmic gymnastics as a part of their training, but  Coach Olszewski thinks to the contrary.

“Rhythmic gymnastics increases the flexibility and endurance for the team,” Olszewski said. “In football, we need to move fast and confidently, so gymnastics is perfect training for that.”

Rhythmic gymnastics also helps the football players to be aware of their body. It reminds them to maintain a healthy physical condition for their performance.

Another benefit of rhythmic gymnastics is to help the player’s self-control. Rhythmic gymnastics and football have a unique similarity: Both of them require full concentration under pressure.

“You have to be aware of the ribbons and such,” Olszewski said.

Olszewski admits he had a hard time convincing the team that rhythmic gymnastics is a good training for them.

But with the help of other football coaches and student assistants, Olszewksi decided to make a presentation for the football players about the benefits of rhythmic gymnastics using PowerPoint presentation and videos from YouTube.

“I thought it was silly at first,” junior Andy Jirik said. “I mean, we are football players. But then the presentation coach gave changed my thoughts.”

The football team started their rhythmic gymnastics training before Easter break.

Brett Chambers, Augustana’s strength and conditioning coordinator, said the training is “rough, but fun at the same time.”

“We have a lot of fun practicing with the ribbons and different balls and hoops,” Chambers said. “We all laugh quite a bit, but it’s a good workout.”

Jirik agrees and said gymnastics training is more fun than he expected.

“I have more fun doing gymnastics than weight training. I think I’ve discovered my other talent besides playing football,” Jirik said.

The results will have to speak for themselves next fall when they get back on the field.