Every athlete wants to get stronger. Every athlete wants to find that little extra edge to make him or her better than the rest of the competition. Strength training and conditioning work is usually the way most programs go to help build their athletes up to be the best.
At Windermere Prep, that work falls under strength and conditioning coach Micah Kurtz. During his four years with the Lakers, he has helped not only school athletes but also the entire school community. He works with middle school students, high school students and, yes, even their parents.
In 2020, Kurtz received the Florida Coach of the Year award by the National High School Strength Coaches Association. He repeated the honor in 2021 as the Southeast Region Coach of the Year.
Kurtz came to Windermere Prep in 2017 after spending 10 years as the strength and conditioning coach at A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, South Carolina. He also spent time at the University of South Carolina as a graduate assistant.
At first, he thought A.C. Flora would be just a stopping point before he got a job working for a D-I college, but that experience ultimately proved to be life-changing.
“I found being at the high school level, and being involved in the strength and conditioning for high school, is the best job ever,” Kurtz said. “The impact that you can have on those kids and on their entire school community is awesome. I’ve found my niche at the high school level.”
At a Nike football conference in Orlando, he met someone who would eventually prove to be important: then-Windermere Prep head football coach Jacob Doss.
“He was in attendance, and we just connected,” Kurtz said. “He enjoyed my presentation, and we kept in contact over the years.”
One day, Doss called Kurtz with the opportunity of a lifetime — the chance to be Windermere Prep’s strength and conditioning coach.
“He recruited me down here and sold me,” Kurtz said. “I’ve always wanted to live in Florida, and it’s an awesome opportunity. It’s been a great four years.”
Kurtz’s program continued to evolve over the years, but he operates his strength and conditioning program with five core elements that have remained as the guiding principles: protection from injuries; focusing on the fundamentals and moving well; strength; speed; and–most importantly–that the athletes are thriving and enjoying the workouts.
“We use what we do in the weight room to thrive in all areas of life,” Kurtz said. “Our mantra here is to embrace the process of becoming the best at getting better. If you come in here every single day and try to get better, over time, you’re going to see great results. That’s in all areas of life.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, there was uncertainty on all sides. Kurtz knew he wanted to keep his athletes in the gym but also had to balance the new reality of sanitation and safety requirements.
Despite all this, the athletes still showed up to work out. Kurtz had as many as 120 students coming in after school for workouts and another 120 to 150 during the week. That was one of the things Kurtz said he admired in his athletes.
“They haven’t said, ‘I’ll go to a private gym and have less restrictions,’” he said. “They have stayed committed and continued to train with us. They trust what we do here and are very adaptable, as well.”