Shocker athletes utilize offseason training to pay dividends for upcoming season


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State Neleigh Herring and Sydney McKinney celebrates during the Regional Final game against OU on May 23.

In college athletics, it is important for an athlete to take advantage of the offseason to help prepare for the upcoming season. Strength and conditioning training and competing in the offseason can help an athlete get in shape for their upcoming season but it also can help their athletic performance in their sport. 

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Kerry Rosenboom has been working for the Wichita State University athletic department for over 30 years. Over the course of his career he explained how every day of the year contributes to an athlete’s success, and how he has seen athletes improve in their sport. 

One of the ways that Rosenboom said the impact of strength and conditioning could be seen following last year’s men’s basketball season. After the NCAA tournament, each player took two weeks off from all activity in order to recover from the season and start the process of working on each player’s weaknesses from the season. 

“An example of this could be improving a players lateral quickness because they had

trouble staying in front of their man on defense,” Rosenboom said. “It could also be getting bigger and stronger to help a player finish through contract or to hold their post position. In basketball – I’ve seen a 7-foot center add 45 lbs. of body weight, while also increasing his strength, agility, and athleticism. He became a dominant player in the conference, as well as nationally.”

Wichita State junior Morris Udeze looks to pass during the game against USF at Dickies Arena on Mar. 12. (Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower)

Men’s basketball junior Morris Udeze said that the past two offseasons have been crucial in his development.

“I feel like my three point shooting, working out with my trainer back in Houston… I feel like we emphasized three point shooting,” Udeze said. “COVID gave me a lot of time to catch up to people that were kind of better than me so I used that time while people were just chilling at home and taking it off.  I found a gym that was open and me and my trainer just hit the gym everyday, and hit the track and got in the best shape and became the player I am today.”  

Sophomore men’s basketball player Chaunce Jenkins said that he hopes to add on more weight in order to be in the physical shape it takes to play at the Division-I level. 

“Definitely adding on a lot more weight,” Jenkins said.” “I think that’s going to help me transition to the college level more. Definitely continuing to improve on the defensive end because I know that’s where everything starts.”

Rosenboom said he has witnessed many athletes at Wichita State experience the impact of strength and conditioning. Despite using the whole year to improve an athlete’s game, Rosenboom said the summer is the best time for an athlete to make gains.

“I’ve seen numerous pitchers add over 10 miles per hour by increasing their strength (especially on their lower body) and their hip flexibility,” Rosenboom said. “I’ve seen golfers add over 20 yards to each club, and tennis players would become quicker so they covered more ground.”

Neleigh Herring, a senior on the Shocker softball team, played this summer on the Bradenton Slice, a summer collegiate softball team.

Herring said that getting to play with the Bradenton Slice has really helped her to work on game type of situations. 

“I go into each summer thinking about what my weaknesses were throughout the spring and trying to improve on them,” Herring said. “I just got back from a summer league in Florida so it really allowed me to work on in-game adjustments, see live pitching and fielding balls off the bat. I’ve been working on my approach at the plate and being able to adjust with two strikes.” 

Wichita State sophomore Sydney McKinney runs home during the game against UCF on May 15. (Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower)

Even though she didn’t play in a league this summer, Shocker softball player Sydney McKinney still has been taking time out of her summer to improve her game for her junior season. 

McKinney said she was caught off guard by the amount of physical shape she needed to be in when she started her career at Wichita State. 

“I did not come in prepared,” McKinney said. “It was a complete new world. If you haven’t done stuff they know. I know I’ll reach out to the younger kids so they are at least doing something.” 

McKinney said the amount of hard work that everyone put into the offseason before the 2021 season really contributed to the team’s success during the spring.

“We were never taking breaks,” McKinney said. “We did it on our own so I think that helped a lot.”