The Super 25 Way: Mater Dei reigns on the court

The Super 25 Way: Mater Dei reigns on the court


The Super 25 Way: Mater Dei reigns on the court


Step inside the Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) weight room, and you’ll spot the girls basketball team performing squats, cleans and Romanian deadlifts like it’s their job.

There’s a reason the Monarchs hold the No. 1 rank; they’re tirelessly working in an effort to win a fourth consecutive state title. Despite not returning any starters from last year’s team, Mater Dei is 20-0 this season.

The new faces in Mater Dei’s lineup include Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.) transfers Karlie and Katie Lou Samuelson, both of whom have been integral to the team’s consistent success. The sisters were selected co-MVPs after leading Mater Dei to the Nike Tournament of Champions title last month in Phoenix.

In doing so, the Monarchs made taking down top-ranked St. Mary’s (Phoenix) look easy. But their TOC performances — along with every game this season — can be partly attributed to intense strength training and revamped nutrition.

Coach Kevin Kiernan credits twice-weekly workouts with Athletic Republic Performance Sports Training for his team’s ability to play back-to-back games and stay strong in the fourth quarter.
Every week, Athletic Republic trainers come to Mater Dei for conditioning and lifting sessions. In-season workouts target upper and lower body on separate days and emphasize high reps and low weight— unlike offseason training, which focuses on heavy lifting at low reps.

Players engage in CrossFit-inspired workouts after an hour and a half of practice. One training session involves a five-round, five-set circuit of dumbbell presses, Farmer’s Walks, ropes and inverted rows.

Sophomore guard Andee Velasco is hardly intimated by the intensity because, she says, the benefits show on the court. Velasco says her stamina has improved alongside her strength.

It’s not just the team’s strength training that keeps players in check. This year, the team brought in a sports nutritionist who discussed ways to eat for improved energy and recovery. The Monarchs even top off each practice, workout and game with a protein shake as a way to help maximize muscle recovery.

Kiernan says he notices his players’ healthier eating habits have helped them recover faster and practice harder without breaking down.

“We have very progressive thinking on nutrition,” Kiernan says. “That’s one of the reasons Mater Dei has been able to stay a step a head.”

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