Athlete development at St John’s College is receiving global input, as part of a national three year Doctoral Research programme investigating how philosophies from athletic development modelling can be integrated within school-based physical education.
The programme has seen the appointment of Andrew Pichardo as director of athletic development, and is part of a strategic partnership with AUT, New Zealand’s leading sports science university.
The partnership allows St John’s access to AUT’s Athlete Development programme, to create a model which provides a holistic approach to youth development.
The research is being led by St John’s old boy, John Cronin, who is a professor of strength and conditioning at AUT and co-director of Sports Performance Research Institute NZ (SPRINZ).
The appointment of Andrew sees him working primarily with the St John’s Sports Institute and leading teams and individuals.
He is completing research for a PhD focusing on Youth Athlete Development under John Cronin and in working with St John’s College, PE staff and students have the opportunity to be research subjects throughout the next few years.
Andrew is implementing a Long-term Athlete Development model with a focus on movement competency and building strength, which will aim to reduce risk of injury, enhance performance, and empower the students to live healthy, active lifestyles.
Tauranga Boys’ College is also involved in a similar research project and PhD students in respective schools will work as a team and share research findings to implement successful concepts in their school PE programmes.
“It is a significant investment by St John’s College and represents a key advancement for the sports programme. A number of other initiatives will be implemented in the next three years to drive St. John’s forward and provide further opportunities for current and future students,” says St John’s College principal Shane Tong.
In addition Andrew is working on Youth Athlete Development programmes aimed at year 7 and 8 students (aged 11-13), where he visits local schools and runs a twice weekly academy at SJC, focusing on ensuring young athletes develop the core competencies which help them develop as athletes in a safe and scientifically controlled environment.
The long-term goal is to prevent injury by ensuring young athletes developed the core strength to handle the increasing workloads as they progress through their chosen sport.
For Professor John Cronin, being an academic and researcher is all about people. He sees his role as a professor of strength and conditioning as the perfect nexus between consultancy, research and teaching.
After completing his PhD from the University of Auckland in 2002, he was promoted to Associate Professor at AUT University in 2005 where he has established himself as an expert in human movement research with a particular focus on the strengthening of muscle.
Research in high performance sport is a key focus. Former discus World Champion Beatrice Faumuina, New Zealand Cricket and the Silver Ferns have also benefited from his strength and conditioning expertise.
As co-director of the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), Professor Cronin has fostered important links with High Performance Sport New Zealand and many national sporting organisations.
Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Andrew holds a Master of Science in Exercise Science, with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning and a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology with a minor in Psychology.
He also holds a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach certification.
Andrew has worked with strength and conditioning programmes at every level including elite sporting high schools, IMG Academy, big time university programmes, such as Midwestern State, University of Florida, and Appalachian State, and at professional level. including the Milwaukee Brewers (Major League Baseball) and most recently with the sledding sports (bobsled, skeleton, and luge) at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Centre in New York.