Conrad, Smet and Lemens Named Athletes of Year for Strength & Conditioning


Mattea Vecera, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Three seniors were recently named 2020 NSCA All-American Strength and Conditioning Athletes of the Year. This program annually recognizes “collegiate and high school athletes, whose accomplishments, in the opinion of their strength coach, reflect their dedication to strength training and conditioning.”

Coach Giovanetti began submitting nominations for this award in 2016 as a way of honoring Notre Dame Academy student-athletes on a national level. 

“When I think about who I want to nominate, the characteristics I think about are commitment, work ethic, along with leadership qualities and just overall being a good teammate,” said Coach A. J. Giovanetti. “If you take care of these things, then strength and athleticism typically comes with it.”

The three recipients this year are Jacob Conrad, Ben Smet and Ashley Lemens. 

By training year round–spending multiple days a week in the weight room during the summer, after school in and off season–and by participating in the class Advanced Strength and Conditioning, their dedication is clear.

“This award means a lot to me because it shows off all the sweat and hard work that I put into the weight room,” said Lemens. “Not only will my name forever be in the weight room, but also I will be remembered for the dedication I had to achieve it. That will forever mean so much to me.”

This award also sets an example for younger student-athletes to work toward personal accomplishment and possibly achieve this goal themselves.

I believe leading by example and always having that contagious energy in the weight room is very important,” said Conrad. “I think it all starts with work ethic and character, and then the rest will follow.”

Previous recipients include Olivia Campbell and Jordan Pappas (2016), Carly Noble and Andrew Zipp (2017), Lizzie Opichka and Jack Allen (2018) and Riley Onell (2019).

All of the recipients get their name engraved on a plaque that hangs in the weight room.

This is pretty significant for me because everyday in the weight room you walk past that little plaque with the names of some of the guys you looked up to as an underclassmen,” said Smet. “Being a football kid, it was always cool to see leaders from my sport up there, so it’s definitely an honor that now they might look up to me.”

All three would also like to thank Coach Giovanetti, their coaches, and their teammates for pushing them to be better in and out of the weight room.