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Parents Push Back Against Mandatory Weight Training

Jason Scott

Should high school athletes be forced to fit weight training classes into their academic schedules?

That’s the question facing El Diamante High School in California. A mandatory weight training policy for student-athletes has some parents flustered over the strain it places on the relationship between athletics and academics.

The Fresno Bee reports that Roland Soltesz, a lawyer and parent of a varsity soccer player at the school, sent a letter demanding “the immediate cessation of the mandatory strength training policy.”

El Diamante has had the policy since the school opened its doors in 2002. Student-athletes are required to participate in weight training throughout the year, both in-season and during their off-season.

While other schools in the district have an expectation that student-athletes lift weights, the mandatory policy is unique to El Diamante.

School administrators argue that a new waiver program allows student-athletes to forego the strength training requirement if they have a full academic course load, but Solstesz says the waivers have proven ineffective. He says that coaches can still pressure their players into either dropping an academic elective, or making time for weightlifting outside of school.

“It’s an illusory waiver,” Solstesz told the Bee. “It’s a waiver in name only. The kids are so afraid they acquiesce. They have to make the choice of academics or weight training. The attitude is so toxic." 

Principal Angela Sanchez said that while administrators have considered dropping the policy before, it has paid off on the playing field. El Diamante’s teams often surpass the competition when it comes to physical fitness.

Sanchez said that the waiver option is new this year, and some coaches must adjust their expectations.

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