Rob Pomazak's extensive strength and conditioning background was one of his chief selling points when St. Charles North hired him last year as the school's new football coach.
Now, Pomazak plans to put his stamp on the school's weightroom with a creative new fundraiser.
On Saturday, Pomazak is helping oversee the school's "1st Annual Pennies 4 Pounds Lift-A-Thon," in which dozens of North student-athletes will record lifts in the bench press, squat and power clean, with per-pound pledges helping raise money for what Pomazak envisions as substantial upgrades to North's weightroom.
"When I got here in February, we came in and kind of took a look at the facility itself, and it's a great space, there's plenty of room, we've got these high ceilings – but really looking at one of the major needs we had is probably getting more racks," Pomazak said. "When people see racks, they think of straight power lifting, but in today's day and age of strength and conditioning, racks can be used as self-contained areas for athletes to train. You can do a lot of station work at them."
Pomazak emphasized the fundraiser is designed to benefit all North students and athletes, not only the football program. Creating a more versatile and inclusive weightroom is a central part of Pomazak's goal in the coming years.
"A lot of our training was done in the hallways," said Pomazak, who was strength and conditioning coordinator at Elk Grove and also holds those duties at North. "Kind of what we're looking to do is make this a one-stop shop where you feel like you can have your whole program in here, and you can get everything that you need to do, whether your focus is strength or endurance or if it's speed and agility and quickness. We kind of want to make this room meet every single student-athlete's needs, and I feel like right now maybe it only meets some of them."
At least 60 North student-athletes are expected to participate in the Lift-A-Thon, representing several different sports.
North football junior running back Nick Edlund likes the creative approach the school is taking with the fundraiser.
"It's definitely a lot more interesting, a lot more kind of motivating than just going door-to-door and just selling raffle tickets or something like that," Edlund said. "You pretty much reel in how much money you lift that day. It's an interesting twist to it and I think it motivates a lot more kids to try and challenge themselves to go and raise money for a good, winning program."
North's boosters organization is helping orchestrate the event. Boosters president Tom Mullally said an event that benefits all of North's programs is a natural extension of the school recently consolidating to a central boosters system rather than each sport having its own group.
"Being that it's our inaugural, we're certainly doing everything we can to shed as much light onto it as possible because I think if it's successful this year, it gives us a great foundation to build on it year over year," Mullally said.
Batavia revamped its weight-training facility a few years ago, and the Bulldogs' football program – coincidentally or not – has enjoyed a historically successful run since, including the school's first football state championship last season.
Referring to Batavia, Pomazak cited a "direct correlation between their physical strength and their emotional investment in their team." North has missed the playoffs four straight seasons, going 5-4 in Pomazak's debut in 2013.
"I think that type of team-building is something that you just can't replicate," Pomazak said. "I really think if you get that in place and you get the equipment in place and kids start to buy into that atmosphere of this is the place where you do win championships, I think you're only going to get more kids out for your program, I think you're going to have stronger kids who are coming out and I think more committed kids."