At IR, Dee's got the key to conditioning - The Explorer: Sports

At IR, Dee's got the key to conditioning

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Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:20 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

At Ironwood Ridge, it's understood that the pursuit of sports excellence is a year-round endeavor.

That's where strength and conditioning coach Dee Dinota comes in.

"We're trying to stay ahead of the game," Dinota said.

It's worked at Ironwood Ridge; a recent point system analysis of success at the high school sports level put Ironwood Ridge and Catalina Foothills at the top.

Dinota has led strength and conditioning at Ironwood Ridge since the school opened.

"The No. 1 goal is to be physically fit, in shape, and prevent injuries."

When Dinota was in high school, strength training and conditioning were supposed to be for football players, boxers and wrestlers. Working out was something that guys did.

These days, Dinota has a full weight room of girls from different sports, particularly volleyball, basketball and soccer.

"We have less injuries in female sports now," Dinota noted. "In soccer, knee injuries can be brutal. We've had less injuries since we started the program."

The training is also sports-specific. This summer's emphasis was on volleyball, with that season about to begin.

Coach Bill Lang, Ironwood Ridge's volleyball coach since the school opened, has led the Nighthawks to 100 wins in the last three years. Last year, Ironwood Ridge lost in the state semi-finals.

"In the last three years, we've put a huge emphasis on strength training and conditioning," Dinota said. "Coach Lang got me started."

"It's a huge part in our success," Lang said. "We haven't had any down time with injuries."

What does Dinota bring to the table?

"We want Dee for strength, power, injury prevention, and mental toughness," Lang said. "Also to develop synergy and chemistry. For us it's been really successful."

In some sports, injuries may tend to occur in the first week or so, as athletes are still rounding into shape.

"We've always done things in the off-season," Lang said. "Our players can be in great shape at the beginning of the season, from working out year-around. We started this April 1."

Dinota also sees the need for training year-round.

"I have some kids that don't play a sport," Dinota said. "They just work out year around. Guys want to gain weight. Girls want to lose weight."

There's a lot of structure to Dinota's program. It's not just about picking up and lifting weights. The programs are sports-specific.

"It's perfect for kids trying out for a specific sport. When they're in their junior year, they usually pick their sport."

She has a different program of things to do, based on the sport the athlete is playing.

Dinota points out that athletes like Nighthawks senior quarterback Tyler D'Amore, who also plays shooting guard in basketball, are exceptions to the rule.

"I want them to have the ability to hold their positions without getting knocked over. They do a lot of the Olympic lifts and squats."

"All the strength training, foot speed, lateral movement. They look more toned."

As part of sports conditioning, the kids spent the first week of July conditioning at the track at 7 a.m. The strength and conditioning sessions were from 2 to 3:30 p.m. over the last three weeks of July.

When school starts, Dinota will have the Ridge volleyball players working out from 3:30 to 4:30 after school. Then, she'll shift her energies into the girls soccer team from 4:45 to 5:30.

Then, there's the class for sports conditioning, which she teaches during the school day. It's rather popular.

"We have the longest waiting list to get into sports conditioning class," Dinota said.

Dinota went to high school in New York. "I came (to Arizona) and got a teaching job in the Amphi school district. It's been 28 years."

She also taught at CDO, and was the softball coach at CDO for 10 years.

"They were not having injuries at CDO. Then, I came over here and started the class here. A healthy body is a healthy mind."

Would she consider returning to coaching a team in a sport?

"My kids are done now. I'm done with coaching teams."

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Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

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Swimming (@4 p.m.)

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Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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