Feb 7, 2019, 9:52:36 AM CST Apr 29, 2019, 12:08:09 PM CDT

Ashton builds strength, speed and confidence at the Children's Health Andrews Institute

A young athlete prepares for a college softball career with the help of sports performance specialists

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Ashton holding softball bat Ashton holding softball bat

Ashton first stepped foot on a softball field when she was just 5 years old, and it seems like she's been out there ever since. The high school junior now plays for a nationally acclaimed fastpitch softball program, as well as her school's varsity team, and has already committed to playing at a university when she graduates.

So when Ashton and her family were searching for strength-training opportunities while recovering from knee surgery her freshman year of high school, Children's Health Andrews Institute Sports Performance powered by EXOS seemed like a perfect fit.

"We were actually introduced to the program through a free trial class offered to her softball team," says Bobby, Ashton's dad. "Once Ashton was there and we saw the science behind the program, we knew this was where she should be."Ashton using kettle bell weight

Ashton soon began training with Jacob Rivera, CSCS, USAW, a performance specialist with Children's Health Andrews Institute Sports Performance, three evenings a week in the high school group training program. They focused on flexibility, strength, core and speed workouts tailored to each athlete's needs.

"A huge reason we've made the commitment and why Ashton continues to train with the sports performance team is because it's not a one-size-fits-all type of program where everyone is doing the same exercises whether they're a football linebacker or a softball outfielder," says Bobby. "They alter each athlete's workouts based on their sport, ability and goals to get the best results."

Ashton soon began to see results as she grew stronger through the program, but more importantly, she saw improvement in her performance on the field – one of many reasons she keeps coming back after nearly two years.

Ashton playing catch"Ashton is truly a one of a kind athlete," says sports performance coach, Rivera. "Someone who truly loves training. She comes in every day with an ‘I-want-to-get-better' attitude. Even when I introduce a tough conditioning session, I never hear a complaint – in fact, she gets even more excited."

"Ashton does not miss a training session," agrees Bobby. "On Friday nights, when others are getting ready to go to football games or out with friends, she is headed to her workout. She loves being there and understands that the coaches are putting these sessions together to make her better, and she's enjoying the results."

The Bridge Program provides support through injuries

In March 2018, Ashton needed surgery on her other knee, causing her to take a five-month hiatus from the softball field. Fortunately, she didn't have to sit out too long from training, thanks to the Bridge Program, an integrated rehabilitative approach that combines traditional physical therapy with sports performance training. She graduated from the Bridge Program in November 2018, and plans to return to her group training sessions until she heads off to college.

"Ashton never let her surgery slow her down," says Rivera. "She came in with the same go-get-‘em attitude that she had before. She is easily stronger and better than she even was before. It's been a true honor to be her coach.

Ashton doing box jumpsThroughout softball career, and especially during her injuries, Bobby says they've discovered who truly cares for their daughter as an individual and not for just what she can do on the field. He says the Children's Health Andrews Institute Sports Performance team is at the top of those who genuinely want what's best for Ashton and her future.

"The coaches come to her games throughout the season and watch her play," Bobby says. "They are fantastic communicators. We always know how her training is going, what she's focusing on and how it's translating onto the field. They are amazing and we are grateful for the relationship they've built with Ashton and our family."

Learn more

The specially trained sports performance experts at Children's Health Andrews Institute Sports Performance powered by EXOS can help your star athlete perform at his or her best, while staying healthy and safe. Learn more about our program and services.

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