Where We Started
In June of 2018, Hawken Athletics launched the Hawken Strength program which, in conjunction with our Human Performance curriculum, was established to enhance the training of our students, thereby enabling them to unleash their potential in sports, academics, and life.
Response to this program has already far exceeded expectations. Every day before and after school, Hawken athletes have been making an incredible effort to participate fully in the program to enhance their performance as they prepare to compete. Additionally, throughout the school day, Hawken’s Human Performance classes in both Middle and Upper School have been engaging in building movement patterns, learning strength techniques, and competing in activities to improve our training approach and culture.
Those efforts have clearly paid large dividends. Hawken swimmer Jessica Eden ’22 -who was named 200IM state champion, is a state record holder in the 200 freestyle relay, and has committed to The Ohio State University - commented, "Coming into 9thgrade, I knew almost nothing about strength and human performance. Over the course of my high school journey with all my classmates, it's been incredible how much I've been able to improve not only my ability but my knowledge."
Essentially, the collective energy, work, and commitment of students like Jessica underscored the urgent need for a new training space that would better support their efforts to improve and excel.
The old weight room in 2019 illustrates the extent
to which we had exceeded capacity.
Where We Are Now
On November 22, students were shown the following preview video of the Kleinman Wellness Center to prime them for a “surprise reveal” of the new facility.
Their amazement upon seeing the space for the very first time was palpable, as you can see in the photo below.
Since the grand opening in November, over 100 students have utilized the center each day, whether for in-season team training, off-season training, or general fitness. In addition to large numbers of upper school students, the impact will be far reaching, as middle school speed and strength sessions are scheduled to start in January, in addition to other programs and events that are planned to roll out throughout 2022. Opportunities for faculty, staff and alumni access are in the planning phase as well.
Kris Lewandoski, Director of Strength and Conditioning, noted, "Our goal was to design a training space that enhanced our productivity, maximized the coaching environment, and, ultimately, delivered an athlete experience that would allow students to become the best version of themselves. Given the workflow and vibe of our space in the first few weeks, I would say our athletes are living out that goal. I am excited to see where our athletes take their progress over the next year and beyond. It is an exciting time to be a Hawken athlete."
Impact on Culture
Kleinman Wellness Center provides an incredible training environment for our students to live out our core values. This new facility will fully support the Hawken Strength program in its commitment to the development and competitive spirit of Hawken student-athletes and their teams as well as to all Hawken students’ growth through the Human Performance program.
Both athletes and coaches have been wildly enthusiastic about the impact this facility will have on the culture of athletics and wellness at Hawken. Jordan Harrison ’22, who has committed to Amherst College for both track and field and football, comments, "I think the new space is going to be like a brand-new beginning for Hawken sports. Now we've created a weight room culture, and that allows our sports to be a lot better - so I’m just excited to see the future of Hawken sports."
Josh Nugent, head coach and program director of boys basketball, reflects on the impact of our strength and conditioning program, noting, "As director of strength and conditioning, Kris Lewandoski's investment and push to build a program that helps all of our student-athletes has been impressive. I have seen tangible progress with our students that are involved with basketball. The newly designed weight room only enhances the foundation that has been established. The functionality of the space is unquestionable, but I think it is the message that designing and building a new space sends that is much more important. The message is that Hawken is truly invested in the development of the whole person – intellect, character, and physical well-being. As the director of boys basketball operations, I can say that it also shows a commitment to help our student-athletes perform at their highest level.”
This new space is a game changer for us, not only because it provides more space but because it will exponentially enhance our coaches' ability to help athletes and teams progress. The layout, along with our state-of-the-art equipment, allows students to be more engaged in their training and also provides a platform for better coaching.
Additionally, specific equipment enables each athlete to train within their level to maximize their progress and prepare for long-term development. The improved workflow, accessibility, and consistency of training week in and week out will make an enormous impact on our athletes and our teams over the course of a year.
The space features 12 platforms and squat racks that are fully loaded with several types of bars, kettlebells, pull blocks, and a jump system from Vertimax. Throughout the room, technology has been integrated to support programming, workflow, and data collection. Additionally, our video system allows our athletes to get real time visual feedback without disrupting their workout. Ironically, our approach to technology provides our coaches more face-to-face coaching time with our athletes, enhancing relationships, training, and long-term development.
The Kleinman Wellness Center is designed to support wellness and performance for all of our students. We recognize they face performance opportunities and challenges throughout the day, academically and in their activities. Our goal is to establish a developmentally progressive and integrated program as the foundation for lifelong wellness for every student – whether they strive to excel in sports, in the classroom, on the debate stage, in a theatrical performance, in a STEMM project, or in any other area of interest.
The weight room represents just one of the center’s three components – the other two being a fitness studio, which is dedicated to both cardio exercise and restorative practices (yoga, stretching, foam rolling, etc.), and a sports medicine clinic, which holistically addresses injuries and preventative practices. Plans are currently underway for Phase II of the Kleinman Wellness Center project, which will encompass an expansion of our sports medicine facility. Stay tuned for more details to come in the months ahead.
A Debt of Gratitude
Hawken is profoundly grateful for all those whose generosity enabled this much-needed project to come to fruition – particularly Blake ‘95 and Sevda Kleinman for providing the lead gift in honor of Blake’s late father Reed, who modeled the values of Fair Play for his sons. Thank you, on behalf of everyone in the Hawken community, for providing support for this significant and meaningful project.