Oct. 10, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – One thing that has been very evident, and is mentioned frequently, during the women’s basketball team’s first couple weeks of full practices is how many of the players worked hard on their strength and conditioning during the offseason.
One player who made significant gains is sophomore Jackie Johnson. A 6-foot-2 forward from Eden Prairie, Minn., Johnson said she realized during her freshman season that she’d need to get stronger in order to be able to withstand the demands of a full collegiate season.
As a freshman last season, Johnson found herself matched up against players with more size and strength, and she appeared in just 12 games for the Gophers. The Big Ten has a plethora of big, strong players, and making it through a season can take a toll on the body.
A good example of the type of player Johnson faces off against is one that she sees on a daily basis in practice – 6-foot-2 Minnesota senior Micaëlla Riché, who has very strong legs and a solid frame. Riché is among the Gophers’ best in the weight room, and she has a chance to become an All-Big Ten player this season. She’s a tough player to guard when you’re just making the transition from high school basketball, as Johnson was last season.
So, when Big Ten play started last season, Johnson made the commitment to begin doing what was necessary to increase her strength and conditioning – lifting weights four days per week, eating healthier, getting more sleep, running and working on conditioning.
According to Sara Wiley, the Gophers’ strength and conditioning coach, Johnson has added more than 20 pounds of muscle to her 6-foot-2 frame. She made impressive gains in both her squat and bench press, and she recorded a personal best time in the mile run.
All the work Johnson has done has helped her confidence on the court, and she has noticed the change during summer workouts and into the first two weeks of full practice. She enters her sophomore season bigger, faster and stronger, and her commitment to make herself better will pay dividends for the Gophers this season and beyond.
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