FAIRMONT– Students about to start at Fairmont High School should have no problem finding an activity to get involved with this year. The school offers a staggering 47 unique athletics, fine arts and clubs.
The school’s activities director, Mat Mahoney, said there are 22 athletics, 10 fine arts, including math league, speech and robotics, three dramas including the fall musical, spring play and a junior high play. There are also 12 different clubs.
“Some are big, some are small. Some are attached to the school, but they also do things outside of school like FFA. Another club is polar plunge,” Mahoney said.
Of the 47 offerings, Mahoney said a good number are new within the past few years. Dance team, which is under the Minnesota State High School League, is one of the newer athletics. Mock trial and debate are two of the newer fine arts and unified cardinals and weightlifting are some of the newest clubs with the latter just kicking off this year.
Mahoney explained why weightlifting was added as a club this school year.
“Weightlifting in general has kind of blown up in the last five years. The demand of high school athletes lifting weights and wanting to do that because they know it’s going to help them physically get faster and stronger, the demand has increased,” Mahoney said.
He noted that there’s two local gyms in Fairmont that students can weightlift at, but offering it at the school increases access to it as well.
Any student, male or female, can be in the weightlifting club. It’s not considered an athletic at this point, and not under the Minnesota State High School League umbrella, but there is a Minnesota association that puts on competitions and a state tournament.
Josie Sodersten, a teacher at the school, is the advisor of weightlifting club. Sodersten explained that weightlifting is a growing winter sport in Minnesota with 27 participating high schools. She said it’s separated much like wrestling is by genre and body weight classes with athletes executing two lifts– the snatch and the clean and jerk.
This school year students in weightlifting club will compete at meets in Cannon Falls, Lakeville South, Northfield and Moorehead.
“Not only is it a fun, competitive sport all on its own, the snatch and the clean and jerk are the two best lifts to develop explosive power and fast-twitch muscle fibers, helping to improve an athlete’s performance for other sports as well,” Sodersten said.
Along with Sodersten, Mahoney said many teacher are advisor of clubs and fine arts. However, when it comes to athletics, there’s more community members filling the roles of coaches.
“Overall it’s been very good. In my tenure as the AD here, I don’t think we’ve ever started a season without a coach or an assistant coach. We always find people who want to help out… we’re very fortunate to have a supportive community behind us to allow us to do some of this,” Mahoney said.
The schedules often work around each other so students can participate in a number of athletics, clubs, fine arts and dramas throughout the school year.
“Speech for example, they might have a two hour window so you can come in and work on your speech with the coaches and go to something else,” Mahoney said.
The fall musical also holds practices in the evening so students can attend after their athletic practices wrap up.
Mahoney said they’ve had a number of three sport athletes who also participate in upwards of 10 different clubs throughout the school year.
“You can letter in the fine arts and athletics, but you can’t letter in a drama or a club,” Mahoney explained.
However, things may change in the coming years. For weightlifting, Mahoney said a lettering process hasn’t been determined yet but it likely will in the future.
“More than anything, when you’re in an activity or sport, you’re in a safe place with your friends chasing after a goal or a passion,” Mahoney said.
Of course, Fairmont High School will also continue to add offerings. Mahoney said as long as there’s an interest and an adult willing to serve as an advisor, they’re open to ideas. He shared that they’re looking at add a bowling club in the near future
“We have a lot of really good stuff. It’s really diverse. I think the biggest thing is we really want students to try to find one thing that they can grab onto and be a part of,” Mahoney said.