From Worst to First: The Story of One School’s Epic Turn Around
UPDATE: Since their first winning season, West Sioux continued on to win another State Championship in 2018 closing out the season with back-to-back championships. This year is no different as West Sioux enters post-season competition.
When Ryan Schwiesow took over the West Sioux program in 2013, he knew he had his work cut out for him. The team was coming off a 1-7 record the season before, and had not experienced a winning season in years. “Kids didn’t believe they could win,” says Ryan. “The culture was one of expecting the worst, expecting to lose.”
The first thing Coach Schwiesow set out to do was to change the expectations for attendance at team lifts. Previously, there was never any accountability in the weight room. Athletes came and went as they pleased and many just never showed up. “We communicated to the kids that their presence in the weight room would be mandated and recorded. Only kids who showed up to lifts would play.”
To accomplish this, Ryan and his staff recorded attendance in excel, posting results frequently. They even went one step further, giving out performance scores based on kids’ effort in the weight room.
The culture began to shift. Attendance picked up. However, success didn’t happen overnight. The first season with Ryan at the helm, the Falcons went 4-6. This was a step in the right direction, but by no means the end goal. With another full off-season to work with, Ryan and his staff continued their approach of accountability in the weight room. In their second year, they went 8-3, marking the first winning season since 2006.
It was at this point that the staff at West Sioux began to look for something to take them to the next level. “Most guys on our staff played college ball and we felt comfortable putting together daily workouts. However, it lacked a long term plan and organization.” At the time, they were also using a pyramid scheme that required kids to constantly check percentage charts for their weights. However, kids typically ended up guessing or doing what their lifting partner had on the bar. Ryan knew they weren’t getting the most out of their time in the weight room so he began searching for a solution.
“We looked at Stack, Volt, and PLT4M. I knew I would need to sell this to my Superintendent and AD so price was a big factor. PLT4M delivered the most value at the best price so we signed on.”
The following year, West Sioux had its’ best year, going 11-2 before coming up short in the state quarterfinals. This marked the beginning of a new era. Attendance at team lifts was a foregone conclusion. Leveraging the PLT4M app, kids now came into workouts prepared, having watched the demo videos of each movement. They had their weights prescribed for each lift and could easily log their results, giving the coaching staff even more insights. In their 4th season under Ryan and his staff, the Falcons made it to the state quarterfinals yet again, finishing once more with only two losses.
“Our kids and coaches learned a lot in those two seasons. Kids understood that to get over the hump, we’d have to continue to get stronger and faster. We’d have to ratchet up our physicality.”
West Sioux did just that. This past season West Sioux put together a perfect season, going 13-0, winning the Iowa state championship, and setting the state record for most points in a season.
West Sioux shows no signs of slowing down. They have been able to start a Fitness class in the morning open to all athletes. They now have 65 kids, boys and girls, from multiple sports training on PLT4M each morning, earning a PE credit in the process.