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New co-curricular program at FHS focuses on healthy lifestyle
Study shows drugs, alcohol affect performance
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By Correne L. Morgan
A new program, called Life of an Athlete, has begun within the Fennimore Community School District and focuses on healthy lifestyles for students participating in athletics as well as any other co-curricular activity. Before they will be allowed to participate in any co-curricular activity during the 2011-12 school year, middle and high school students, and at least one of their parents/guardians, are required to attend one of two meetings on the topic.
Letters were sent out to all parents regarding the Life of an Athlete program.
The first meeting was held Tuesday morning, Aug. 2. The second will take place on Monday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Fennimore High School gym and last about 45 minutes to an hour. The meeting will include a Power Point presentation, handouts and discussion. Another option for those unable to attend a meeting will be to watch a video at some point prior to competition this school year.
“Students will not be able to participate in any activities until there is attendance at one of these. Students could still practice; they just can’t play in a game or perform,” FHS Principal Dan Bredeson said.  “This is for anybody participating in co-curriculars, like forensics, FFA, drama, and yearbook, for example.”
The emphasis of this new Life of an Athlete program is “more of a healthy lifestyle perspective,” according to Bredeson, “instead of the current athletic code just saying ‘you’re a good or a bad person.’”
All co-curricular students will agree to a pledge that demonstrates an understanding of the effects drugs and alcohol can have on the brain and the body and ultimately performance. Nutrition and the role of a parent/guardian in a student’s active life are also important factors of the program.
Bredeson said that the idea for Life of an Athlete stems from a program called Pure Performance, founded by John Underwood, president of the American Athletic Institute.
According to, Underwood is a former NCAA All-American, international-level distance runner and World Masters Champion who has coached or advised more than two dozen Olympians, including World and Olympic Champions. He holds three International Olympic Solidarity diplomas for coaching and has been a crusader for drug-free sports at all levels. Underwood’s program, Pure Performance, has gained international prominence. It has been mandated by the New York Public High School Athletic Association and used in consulting the Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation and the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center.
Underwood has conducted the only physiological case study of the residual effect of drugs and alcohol on elite athletic performance.
A key statistic of the study says that just one night of abusing alcohol eliminates 14 days of training.
The goal of Fennimore’s Life of an Athlete program is to get students to consider the effects on performance that chemicals from drugs and alcohol can cause. Rather than telling the students to simply refrain from using drugs and alcohol because it makes them “a bad person,” Bredeson said the new program will give them the knowledge they need to make educated decisions.
“It’s important to get that information out there so we’re all able to make better decisions,” he said.
For more information, contact the high school at 822-3245.