By adding the first responders’ pathway, the school was able to build a new weight room for students
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
VISALIA – Two years ago, Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) had the goal of developing 10 linked learning academies across the district as part of the career pathways trust grant. Golden West High School had already been the recipient of two academies, and it was decided that a third would be added. This new academy was to focus on getting students ready for the field of first responders.
However, in order to fulfill the curriculum, Golden West was in much need of an upgrade when it came to their weight room. What Vice Principal Bill Davis, who is the administrator in charge of the academy, found was that all the careers that students would hope to enter from this academy have a high demand on physical fitness.
“What we were running into was the influx of the academy kids along with other students trying to use the old facility. It was just becoming impacted,” said Davis.
So this last summer, thanks to a joint effort by the district that included funds from the grant, district facility and Golden West athletics, a new weight facility was built.
“It is a really nice facility and I think it is something to be proud of,” said Davis.
The one person who might be a little bit more excited about facility is the academy’s lead teacher Adam Decosta. In fact, Decosta gets to use the 4,200-square foot facility not only to get his academy students ready, but for the football team also, as he is the strength and conditioning coach for the Trailblazers.
“This facility is very beneficial for all students, but most importantly [for] the academy students,” said Decosta.
For him, it is all about building up a foundation so when students enter the career fields of police, firefighter, or emergency medical technician (EMT) they possess the strength to do what is required of them. With this new facility, and the new equipment housed inside, the mission of making sure that the academy students are prepared to take the next step in their careers, is achievable. Students are able to do strength training, aerobic exercises or anything that they need to do, which is a major focus during all four years of the academy.
“I think that is going to help them the most because they are going to be well rounded after these four years of weight lifting,” said Decosta.
By some standards, the old facility that the school was using before the academy came was less than half the square footage of the new weight room. With only freshmen and sophomores enrolled in the academy, totaling around 100 students, Golden West has room to grow.
Even though the installment of the academy brought the need for a new weight room to the front of the district’s mind, the overall need of the site was the second prong to getting the new weight room. For Decosta, the ability to use the new facility to strengthen his football players is important.
Over the offseason the Blazers are lifting the iron every day that they can, then they back off during the season to about three times a week.
“We are lifting hard, we are lifting heavy and it sets the mentality that the players are going to perform on the field,” said Decosta.
Already this season, the Blazers have seen the benefits of the new facility play out on the field. Golden West has outscored their three opponents 138-21, including a shutout last week over Madera South 61-0. The size of the building and the amount of equipment inside no doubt has helped the team make more efficient use of their time.
It is not just Decosta, the players and, more importantly, the leaders of the team are taking charge and pride in this new facility, making sure that it is put to good use to make themselves better.