Westminster's Penning Takes Extra Steps To Propel Volleyball Career
The senior will play volleyball in college at Pepperdine.
You can't teach height, as the saying goes.
Mitch Penning, a standout senior on the Westminster Christian Academy volleyball team and Maryland Heights resident, had the height thing down. But in recent years, he knew he didn't know enough about flexibility and weight training.
That was until he met Tracy Fober. Fober, a strength coach and physical therapist, is the owner of Iron Maven Physical Health & Performance and has a workout space in the light industrial district just outside Creve Coeur.
Fober works with prep athletes looking to maximize potential and to build a foundation for the future, as well as older athletes looking to work through years of chronic use and injury.
Penning's club volleybal teammates, SLUH's Tommy Beckmann and Kurt Thiemann also work with Fober.
Under her watch, Penning has gained 30 pounds in a year and a half as he has also developed into a volleyball player some say could have a spot on the Olympics. He's also gone from being super flexible, what Fober called "hypermobile" to having a stronger foundation.
"When I would move, everything would crack and so working with Tracy everything's a lot stronger now, so I don't have to worry about things popping out of place or anything happening because there's that structure behind it and that strength now from what she's done," he said.
Fober's approach is one that's admittedly not glamourous. “No tricks no gimmicks, just exercise,” is what she calls it, with a heavy dose of instruction when it comes to working out with weights.
"They know how to act in a weight room, they know how to put away the equipment," she said of her pupils after they're done with her. "They know how to count in kilos and pounds so some of it is how you conduct yourself and what are you going to expect at a high level,” Fober said.
Penning, who earned first team All-State honors for the Wildcats last season, will take what he's learned from Fober and apply it at Pepperdine. Based on what he heard from the college athletes he talked to while on recruiting visits, it sounds like Penning will come in a step ahead.
"If you can come in and already know how to do things like that then you can go right off and start to learn a lot quicker and get a lot stronger right away and you just surpass everybody else who hasn't been working hard before so I think its very beneficial."