In what was formerly called “the basement” of Bayonne High School is now a Walk of Fame leading up to the new Strength and Conditioning Center, which was unveiled on Wednesday, September 21, with BHS graduate Mayor James Davis and BCB CEO and President Thomas M. Coushlin cutting the ribbon. “Don’t call it the basement anymore,” joked Superintendent Patricia McGeehan, who now calls the lowest floor,“’A’ Level.”
“I decided it was time to redo our antiquated weight room,” said McGeehan. “And provide our physical education students, over 200 who use it daily, and our athletes, state-of-the-art equipment geared specifically toward competitive training and to prepare them for competitive agility and a healthy lifestyle.”
Davis said the new weight room will raise the spirits of student-athletes; thanked the community for the $90,000 raised to make the renovation possible.
“We all know about the poor funding situation that BHS is under, and when those dollars trickle down, unfortunately…athletic teams sometimes get put on the side burner,” said Bayonne Board of Education President Joseph Broderick. “It’s not that you don’t want to do it, but that’s there’s no money left to do it. Things like this could never be done without the citizens of Bayonne.”
Teacher, role model, Walk of Famer
Students can use the weight room as part of the physical education elective or for sports training. Strength and Conditioning Coach, future Walk of Famer, and BHS graduate Kevin DiGiorgio wants to teach students healthy fitness habits. While teaching proper lifting form and fitness routines are crucial, issues of body image and self-esteem are pervasive and too often, young adults use fitness to look good rather than to be healthy. “Kids see these big fitness models and want to look like that,” DiGiorgio said. “But you may never get that look, and on the other hand you want kids to be motivated. You always want someone to look up to for inspiration.”
DiGiorgio is that role model for many of his students, holding three national shot-put records, his longest being 69 feet, 8 inches. He also holds a world record with the International Powerlifting Association in squatting at 760 pounds.
“I talk to the kids about the importance of diet,” he said. “When kids ask me how to lose weight, I ask them what they eat and tell them to eat clean.” DiGiorgio is very muscular, and he maintains his fitness through the paleo diet, which consists of meat, fish, nuts, vegetables, and fruit. “Kids look for the easy way sometimes, but I tell them to steer clear of [steroids or fitness supplements],” DiGiorgio said. “You just have to try to guide them the best you can.”
“Kids see these big fitness models and want to look like that, but you may never get that look, and on the other hand you want kids to be motivated. You always want someone to look up to for inspiration.” – Kevin DiGiorgio
The Strength and Conditioning Center features a full weight room that any fitness fanatic would appreciate. Clanking steel weights,benches, pull-up bars, and fitness machines line the walls across from a long mirror for students to watch their technique. A long dumbbell rack with weights up to 125 pounds are under the mirror, along with powerlifting stations. “Have you ever seen those high wooden platforms in collegiate gyms,” asked DiGiorgio, pointing to a Fighting Bee logo, under which is one of two “inlay” platforms designed to absorb the shock of barbells dropped from standing powerlifting exercises. “The ground is really thick, and those platforms are laid out in the ground, so we save space if, God forbid, a kid trips.”
Powerlifting and free-weight workouts are essential for track-and-field athletes like DiGiorgio, as well as football, baseball, and basketball players. DiGiorgio said that while lifting is important, it can also pose risks. “I teach lifting techniques all the time,” DiGiorgio said.“If you learn the wrong way, that’s where you get hurt. Safety is number one all the time.”
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at email@example.com.