On any other Tuesday, Tom Docherty would have expected the usual when he arrived at practice.
A member of the varsity wrestling team at John Jay High School, the sophomore would normally be grappling on the mats, escaping from holds and cinching in some of his own on his fellow Patriots.
Instead, Docherty sprinted 10 meters inside the school’s gym before marching in place and then balancing on one leg with his eyes closed with a multitude of his classmates’ eyeballs gazing at him.
The wrestler was one of dozens of John Jay student-athletes who received some of the same specialized athletic testing Olympic and professional competitors the world over experience.
“It was awesome being out there,” Docherty said after Dr. Peter Gorman, president of Microgate USA, spent more than an hour with Patriots like him, helping them prevent injury and strive to build symmetrical bodies. “It’s good to know that John Jay can bring guys like him over here with our athletes.”
Based in Mahopac, Gorman’s company provides professional timing and athletic performance evaluations for everyone from Olympic athletes in North America, Asia and Europe, to AC Milan and New York Red Bulls soccer players.
John Jay is the first high school Microgate has worked with — the company came to the school free of charge, offering complimentary evaluations — and even if the young student-athletes don’t go on to win Olympic gold medals, Gorman said Tuesday’s experience could help the Patriots perform better in their particular sports.
“We’re going to be measuring the movement of the athletes so that we can see if they are using both legs equally,” Gorman said. “With a runner, you could have the fastest runner on your team, but he might only be accelerating from his right leg, not right leg and left leg because he had an old injury that he never recovered from.”
Part of Tuesday’s testing included having Patriots sprint 10 meters between two tracks full of sensors, called an OptoJump. Along the way, 970 beams of light recorded everything from the athlete’s speed, velocity, power and length of each stride, among other factors.
“We can tell the components of sport from this,” Gorman said.
With that information, Gorman and his staff created baseline data for each athlete, from which student and coach could work to improve aspects like power, lower body symmetry — ensuring both the left and right leg accelerate the athlete equally — and balance.
Chris Perry, a 2006 John Jay graduate who’s known Gorman for years and asked him to bring the company to his alma mater (where he’s now an assistant wrestling coach), said Microgate will likely return during the middle and then the end of his team’s season to see if the athletes’ performances have improved.
“It’s a great opportunity for these high school kids,” said Perry, now in his third year teaching physical education at Wappingers Junior High School. “It’s not just a one-time training process; it’s about learning this over time. We’re going to test our bodies now … and somewhere in the middle of the year, we plan to get re-evaluated and see if what we implemented during the year (worked).
“Are we getting stronger, bigger, faster, more in-balance, or are we getting worse? If we’re getting worse, we need to change our program. If we get better, we have to stay on the right path.”