SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Augustana University baseball team, one of the schools for which Sanford Health is the exclusive sports medicine provider, won its first first NCAA Division II College World Series National Championship last weekend. The Vikings concluded the 2018 regular season 52-9.
The team began preparing for the title long before the season started. During the off-season, the Vikings trained three days a week with Sanford POWER in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Strength and conditioning specialists Charley Smook and Brad Rilling led the team through workouts with a primary focus on gaining strength and getting each player to an optimal weight for their position.
“It’s possible for them to become too big and thick, so we focus on getting them as strong as they can while staying mobile and fast,” Smook said.
As with any sport, preventing common baseball injuries like tendinitis in the elbow and lower back strains is also a top priority. Smook said they prefer to focus more on long-term goals and developing a “long-term athlete.” This means perfecting form first, then slowly adding weight to avoid pushing their bodies too hard too quickly.
“The guys get excited for the heavy weight but they understand the process,” Smook said. “Our goal is to get our athletes bigger and stronger so they can achieve their highest athletic potential and prevent injuries.”
Smook credits the players for always pushing the limits and working hard each day at the Sanford Fieldhouse. He and Rilling take pride in playing a vital role in Augustana’s national title.
“They’d run through a brick wall for us and they’ll do what we tell them to do,” Smook said. “At the celebration, some of the guys we’ve worked with for a couple years now came to us and said, ‘Hey coach, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you guys. You supplemented what we could do on the field and opened up our true potential.’ That was really cool to hear.”