Athletics is a major part of Canterbury students’ lives, so it was a big deal for them when Dr. Winnie Lizardo, DPT, CSCS, a New York City-based Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, came to campus for a presentation hosted by Women of Canterbury.
Her résumé is impressive indeed: a two-sport college athlete who majored in Sport and Exercise Sciences at Ithaca College…a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from New York University…10-plus years of coaching middle and high school athletes…certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association…and, last but not least, being coached at Blair Academy by our very own Head of School Rachel Stone P ’23, ’24!
Winnie began her visit by chatting with Women of Canterbury members in the D’Amour Center for Faith, Service & Justice, then moved to the Steers Center Ragland Commons for her talk that was open to all students.
Touching upon topics such as body image, nutrition for fueling fitness, fitness vs. performance, and general habits, Winnie shared valuable pointers about preparation for athletes both during and between seasons. “For training, what is important in the off-season is to prioritize rest,” she said. “All of the details about how many calories or carbs you are consuming or how much you are training mean absolutely nothing if you are not sleeping, well-hydrated, resting between competitions, and focused in your training.”
Winnie’s comments about body image seemed to especially resonate with her audience. “It is important to know that everyone goes through some kind of insecurities when it comes to body image,” she told them. “Have empathy for it. The more you can practice combating it, the easier it gets. Be the person who defends someone who is not in the room. Develop the culture that you want in your school or on a team.”
Attendee Anne Celestino ’24 heard the message loud and clear. “Body image is a huge issue with teenage girls,” she said. “Dr. Lizardo’s advice opened a new lens for me and helped me start to appreciate myself and others around me more.”
Director of Health Services Colleen Cook, R.N. ’02 was pleased to see how much the students took Winnie’s words to heart. “Dr. Lizardo led a great exercise to get students thinking about how they interact with social media and how it may be affecting their perception of self. This really seemed to get them to rethink how they use different social media apps,” Colleen said. “Plus, her advice on fueling as an athlete and balancing workouts in-season vs. out-of-season is something our students can use as a foundation to build on.”
It was especially rewarding for Rachel to see her former player come to the hilltop. “Winnie was a starter on my varsity basketball team from 2002 to 2006. One of the very best parts of being a boarding school educator is the connections we build with our students that continue to grow long past their graduation,” she shared. “Winnie was one of my all-time favorite—and most talented—athletes to coach, but better yet, knowing her now as a colleague and accomplished professional is extraordinary.”
We are so grateful to Winnie for sharing her insights and advice with our student-athletes.