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FAST program paying dividends for athletes

Austin Hendershot pumps some iron in the Wadena-Deer Creek Senior High weight room.1 / 8
Avery Jackson practices her lifting form in the mirror.2 / 8
Speedster Brittney Noon works on a drill as Cullen supervises.3 / 8
Courtney Volkmann does some standing jumps to improve her vertical.4 / 8
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Paul Cullen spots for Emily Miron.6 / 8
Rachel Craig does some quick stepping.7 / 8
Sarah Craig sets sail on a speed and agility drill as trainer Paul Cullen looks on.8 / 8

Athletics is a full-time job for prep athletes in the 21st Century.

That is the starting point for a program athletic trainer Paul Cullen is teaching this summer in Wadena.

Functional Athletic Sports Training (FAST) returned to Wadena two years ago. Cullen stepped into the program four years ago and brought it back to Wadena in 2008. FAST consists of speed, agility and strength training that is designed to lessen the chance of sports injuries while increasing athleticism.

"Most of the kids I have in it are in quite a bit of stuff," Cullen said. "Most of the time you see good results with strength training as well as with the agility tests you do."

FAST gives younger athletes like Matt Laughlin a fighting chance against bigger, older players. Laughlin is involved in baseball, basketball and football.

"I wanted to become bigger, have more muscle and be able to compete with older kids," said Laughlin, who considers the summer training essential. "When football comes around I might not be in good shape and I might get hurt."

Cullen incorporates exercises that help athletes overcome injuries. Shoulder and lower leg injuries are two of the biggest that Cullen sees.

"The muscle has a certain amount of education that it needs in order to function," he said. If you don't use it, then it really doesn't know how to function. If you train it, it can react when it needs to. Like a shoulder, if you don't have a good core to your shoulder, when it is holding the scapula in, the shoulder is going to move out and you are going to be more prone to injuries."

Courtney Volkmann is a standout volleyball and basketball player for Wadena-Deer Creek who is busy in the summer with camps and likes the FAST program because she can see results.

"I like noticing when you get stronger and quicker," Volkmann said. "I wanted to improve my vertical and get stronger."