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by Mark Cheffey
The Palmyra R-I School District has its first official strength and conditioning head coach.
The district announced last Tuesday that Dalton Hill, who comes to Palmyra from the Mark Twain School District, will fill the newly formed position for Palmyra starting with the 2023-2024 school year.
Hill was also hired to serve as the high school’s new weights, fitness and physical education instructor as well as an assistant football and wrestling coach.
“His primary responsibilities will include establishing and maintaining a strength and conditioning program for all sports (and individual students not participating in sports programs) with goals of improving athletic performance, reducing injuries, and teaching lifelong fitness and movement skills,” said R-I Superintendent Jason Harper. “Coach Hill will work to formulate training plans based on sound scientific principles, maintain records on each student, evaluate students and athletes, and meet regularly with sport coaches to determine what the athletes need to work on.”
Hill is currently the strength and conditioning coach at Mark Twain High School. He graduated from, and played football for Northwest Missouri State University.
Harper said Palmyra has had a weights stipend for many years that took care of summer weights and conditioning, but this change will expand the position to be more inclusive of all sports programs and include a more diverse training regimen.
“The ultimate goal is to transfer potential to performance for all of our athletes while also decreasing injuries and other things that could impede participation.”
Harper said the new position follows a recent trend among schools.
“There is definitely more emphasis being placed on training and conditioning student athletes at the high school level,” Harper said. “It will be great to offer training to our students that will not only help their performance, but keep them healthier at the same time.”
Harper said all schools in the Clarence Cannon Conference have variations of strength and conditioning programs.
“Most school districts that want to be competitive in athletics will have someone in charge of their strength program,” Harper said. “The change here is that it is not tied to a head coach position.
“The intention is that this position will work with all head coaches in the district to tailor programs for their student athletes.
“This will take some time to implement, but over time the results should be a big positive for the school district. It can also be helpful for students not in athletic programs that want to take fitness classes for personal health-related goals.”
Harper said there is a “mountain of evidence” that shows that proper training to increase strength, speed, agility, flexibility, and efficiency of movements can improve performance.
“I have personally watched this elevate performance in athletes for many years,” he said. “It not only helps them physically, but it helps on the mental aspects of competition, or life, as well.”