Ben Goertzen

Ben Goertzen

School is in session at PISE

Sports school trains Greater Victoria students with eye on elite competition

Mornings at school are a little different for Ben Goertzen than they are for his classmates at Pacific Christian School.

That’s because the Grade 10 student doesn’t roll into PCS until around 10 a.m.

For four of the five school days in a week, Goertzen joins 12 other Greater Victoria students to train at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence in the Canadian Sports School program. The time spent at PISE is credited towards their high school educations.

Weightlifting, gymnastics and wind sprints dominate the classes, run by Olympic weightlifter Jeane Lassen.

“I’ve seen major improvements in a lot of my life, not just (weightlifting),” said Goertzen, who plays second base for the Victoria Eagles of the B.C. Premier Baseball League.

“On the diamond I’m faster and just feel all around stronger. Hopefully I can enroll again next  year.”

The program is open to elite-minded athletes from all disciplines and runs from September to June.

Getting in is a process. Athletes submit a letter of intent and references from coaches before getting interviewed. The program is capped at 25 students, 13 in the morning and 12 in the afternoon, from Grades 10 to 12.

“It’s for future Olympians and international athletes, hopefully,” said Lassen, the class instructor. “Or any athletes who is highly dedicated.”

Lassen represented Canada at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and was in London in 2012 but was injured. Instead, she assisted coaching staff helping teammate Christine Girard win bronze.

She relocated to Victoria last year to run the program at PISE, which also trains members of the Boardworks diving club.

“It’s a lot of technical coaching with weights but there’s also a classroom component,” Lassen said. “Guest speakers, including many Olympians, routinely talk to the students about sports psychology, nutrition and dedication.”

Gymnastics and sprints are each once a week while weights are a main focus.

“The reason we do weights is because we find the kids don’t have the core strength (at the higher percentiles). It’s also very technical. They do a lot without the weight to build the memory of doing it correctly. Later they can continue to add weight,” Lassen said.

What’s remarkable is how well the training transfers to various sports.

Grade 10 swimmers Sarah Mabee-Hall and Maddie Powell of Claremont secondary attend. So do Grade 12 Claremont rower Ali Zwicker and Grade 12 Spectrum community school rower Katie Griffin.

“It’s not just in the amount of power I put out (while rowing), but the strength also helps with balancing the fine movements that are so important with rowing,” Zwicker said.

Same goes for Mabee-Hall, a national level swimmer at just 15 years old.

Mabee-Hall qualified for the senior national swimming championships in July, hitting the standard for the 1,500-metre. But she has yet to specialize on a particular distance for competition and feels the difference in all areas of swimming, short and long course, she said.

“A high-speed tennis serve has been measured as the equivalent force used in a 75-kilogram jerk (in weightlifting)” Lassen said. “Often people are concerned about young athletes weightlifting but done properly it’s low risk and highly beneficial.

“The techniques of lifting are good life skills to have, whether you’re lifting furniture or getting back up from a tackle during a game.”

sports@vicnews.com

Ali Zwicker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Sports School athlete Ali Zwicker does a chin up in the High Performance gym at PISE. The Grade 12 rower at Claremont secondary school  attends class at PISE four days a week.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

The District of Saanich is accepting nominations for the 2021 Environmental Awards until June 1 at 4 p.m. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Nominations now open for Saanich’s 21st annual Environmental Awards

Awards recognize individuals and organizations making Saanich more sustainable

Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside president Angus Macpherson visited the Wear2Start Society boutique in Victoria to present a cheque to the society’s vice-president Alessandra Ringstad (left) and president Angela Mangiacasale. (Courtesy of Wear2Start)
Rotary club donates over $11,000 to Greater Victoria non-profit for women

Wear2Start Society provides clothing for women in need

Adrienne Rogers (LPN) and Tracy McConnell (RN) on the Victoria Hospice Unit. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Hospice)
Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors dealing with a tsunami of grief

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people

Paddles sit stacked and ready at a rowing regatta on Elk Lake in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria junior girls rowing team nabs first in national Row to Tokyo challenge

Young Victoria City Rowing Club members row more than 2,250 km

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read