Grace Pruden has been playing competitive soccer since she was four years old. The freshman striker for Hillcrest High says the game has shaped her as a person on and off the field.

So, when she began experiencing recurrent bouts of back pain, she heeded the warning signs, sought medical attention and took some needed breaks from training. Recently, with physical therapy, and the help of a new injury prevention programprudensmall.jpg at Hillcrest High, Pruden says she’s feeling “healthy and strong” coming into a new season this fall. “I’m leaps and bounds from where I used to be,” she says.

But for every teen athlete who takes steps to safeguard their health, there are thousands who are compelled to push their growing bodies to a breaking point, contributing to what some are calling an epidemic in youth sports injuries.

“Many of these injuries, such as concussions and ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] tears, can be life-altering,” says Robin Cecil, a doctor of physical therapy and an assistant girls soccer coach at Hillcrest. “But the good news is that these traumas, along with overuse injuries, such as muscle strains and knee and ankle sprains, are preventable.”

There are about 2 million high school-related sports injuries annually, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Overuse injuries are responsible for about half of the injuries in middle school and high school athletes, and the CDC says half of those are preventable.

There are many factors behind the trend. Youth sports, now a $15.3 billion industry that includes leagues and livestreamed games, is no longer a seasonal affair. To remain competitive in the eyes of college recruiters, kids are being encouraged to specialize in a single sport at younger ages, and they’re playing the sport year-round, which is placing too much repetitive stress on their still-developing bodies. “Kids are training like adults and their bodies aren’t ready for it,” Cecil says.

But if new technologies and advances in sports medicine have made it possible to push athletes to excel, why not use these same tools to prevent injury? Such is idea behind AthleteMonitoring.com, a computer-based athlete management system that Hillcrest’s girls soccer team is test-piloting this summer.

In competitive sports, there is a sweet spot for training. In order to optimize performance, coaches have to design programs that push athletes without putting them at risk for injury or illness, explains the Husky’s new head soccer coach Kyra Peery. “Finding and maintaining the balance between intense training and recovery and rest is an art and, increasingly, a science.”

Athlete Monitoring is used by professional, college, high school and club sports teams around the world to gather and interpret data on athletes’ fitness and wellness. Every morning, Pruden logs in to the secure system on her cell phone or a tablet and answers a series of five questions designed to gauge how well she’s sleeping, and how much fatigue, soreness and stress she’s experiencing. Then, again, after practice she completes an assessment of the training session, remarking on her enjoyment and exertion levels, along with any health problems. “It’s easy,” she says, “and only takes a few minutes.”

The data are then made available in real-time to the coaching team through easy-to-understand dashboards and built-in alerts, which flag certain athletes as being at risk for injury due to overtraining or other stressors. There’s even a “monotony index,” which, when above-normal, indicates enhanced risk for injury.

The system empowers coaches to make more calculated and precise changes to their training, and to individualize training for athletes, Peery says. “As coaches, we often forget that external stressors, such as work, friends, school, and family also factor into an athlete’s recovery and performance. This helps us put the students, and their well-being, first.”

One of the ways to reduce injuries and athlete burnout is to play more than one sport, but monitoring the workload for these athletes can pose communication and coordination challenges for coaches, says Hillcrest’s athletic director John Olsen. “The benefit of using a single data interface is that it makes it possible for everyone to be working from the same playbook, because all of us—the coaching staff, athletic trainers and the athletic director—are alerted to any health issues that athletes report.” The girls soccer team is the first to experiment with the system, but if successful, it may be put to use more widely.

Students also appreciate the open line of communication. While taking a break from the summer heat during a pre-season training session, center midfielder Kate Timmerman described the daily routine of providing feedback to the coaches as “empowering.” It doesn’t hurt having a little extra incentive to complete the drills that coaches assign on off-practice days, she says. “It keeps everyone accountable.”

Staying fit through the off-season is important as injuries tend to spike during tryouts, Cecil says. “It’s best to gradually ramp-up workloads.”

With this in mind, Peery and her husband and assistant coach Brock Peery have been hosting free summer training for their players where the girls weight-train and run drills three times per week for two hours a day.

This, coupled with the team’s student-first, injury-prevention focus, has Pruden feeling optimistic about the fall season. “The team is looking really strong,” she says, “and it’s been a relief to see the improvement with my back and my health.”

Injury Prevention Tips

All sports carry the risk of injury. Fortunately, the benefits of sports outweigh most of the risks, and many injuries are preventable—especially those due to overuse or overtraining.
  • Take a Break: It’s important to build-in rest periods between training, practice and competitions. A useful rule-of-thumb is that children under the age of 16 should not practice more hours per week at a given sport than their age in years. 
  • Self-care: It’s important for athletes to eat a healthy diet and consume enough calories. Getting enough rest and liquids are equally vital. 
  • Keep it Fun: Training should be fun and invigorating. If it feels monotonous or painful, that can be a sign that you’re pushing too hard. 
  • Play Safe: Good sportsmanship and adherence to game rules can reduce the risk for injury.
  • Manageable Workload: With training, it’s important to use proper technique and to keep weekly workload increases under 15 percent.
  • Warm-up & Cool Down: It’s important to do dynamic warm-ups before training to pre-stretch and activate muscles without overstretching them, and to do cool downs afterward.
The Huskies are getting a new home, and we’re celebrating with a ceremonial turning of dirt.

Students, teachers, parents and members of the community are invited to a groundbreaking ceremony at Hillcrest High on Thursday, May 31 to herald the start of a rebuild of the campus. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. with a reception followed by a ceremony at 6 p.m. 

The new Hillcrest High is being made possible by a $283 million, tax-rate-neutral bond approved by Canyons voters in 2017. Construction will start this summer and be undertaken in phases over three years to allow the school to remain in operation.

The 56-year-old school has a strong heritage, and special attention is being paid to building a modern environment wired for emerging technologies without sacrificing elements of the existing building that are rooted in tradition. DelMar Schick Stadium will remain untouched, but among major improvements are a new field house and performing arts complex to match Hillcrest’s history of excellence in the arts.

The floor-plan for the new school — the addition of a commons area and emphasis on open spaces illuminated by natural light — is being designed with school safety and security in mind. Classroom windows that open onto commons areas for group study and teacher-collaboration will contribute to a culture of transparency and inclusiveness. Hallways will be configured to provide administrators an unobstructed view of the campus, and classroom windows configured to preserve safety zones in the classrooms.

Since Canyons’ inception, the District has worked to plan for growth while also addressing the safety and technological deficiencies of the aging buildings it received from a previous school district. Thirteen improvement projects were financed with proceeds from a bond approved by voters in 2010.  The last project, a renovation of Indian Hills Middle, will be finished in time for the start of school this fall. 

The 2017 bond will make it possible for CSD to rebuild six schools, including Hillcrest, remodel Alta High, build a new elementary school in west Draper to accommodate growth, remodel offices at six elementary schools, and add skylights for more natural light at 18 elementary schools.
Twenty-six more Canyons District athletes have been presented Academic All-State Awards this year for excelling in sports and in the classroom.

The awards are announced each sports season by the Utah High School Activities Association with this latest round going to students involved in track and field, boys soccer, baseball, softball, girls golf and boys tennis. This brings to 65 the total number of CSD honorees in 2017-2018. 

Congratulations to these sporting scholars:

5A Boys Soccer, Combined GPA, 3.999
David Brog, Brighton 
Thatcher Schwendiman, Brighton 
Jace Vance, Brighton

5A Baseball, Combined GPA 3.994
Zachary Larson, Brighton
Matthew Ebeling, Corner Canyon
Dalton Hagen, Corner Canyon

5A Softball, Combined GPA 3.991
Maguire Wright, Alta 
Erin Christensen, Brighton 

6A Girls Track and Field, Combined GPA 4.0
Madison Hooper, Hillcrest 
Madeline Martin, Hillcrest 
Jessica Ulrich, Hillcrest 

5A Girls Track and Field, Combined GPA 4.0
Claudia Caten, Brighton 
Emily Johansen, Brighton 
Olivia Liu, Brighton
Nicole Critchfield, Corner Canyon 
Makenzie Easton, Corner Canyon 
Raili Jenkins, Corner Canyon 
Hannah Sanderson, Corner Canyon 
Madison Westerlind, Corner Canyon 

5A Boys Track and Field, Combined GPA, 4.0
Aaron Jackson, Corner Canyon 
Trevor Lawson, Corner Canyon 
Michael Petty, Corner Canyon 

5A Boys Tennis, 3.997 GPA
Trek Lewis, Corner Canyon

6A Girls Golf, 3.986 Combined GPA
Jessica Ulrich, Hillcrest 

5A Girls Golf, Combined GPA 3.990
Mia Montgomery, Brighton 
Katherine Pearson, Brighton
If rebuilding a high school is a major undertaking, try tackling three at once. This summer, construction crews will begin work on rebuilds of Brighton and Hillcrest high schools along with a major renovation of Alta High.

Architectural firms, with input from students, parents, employees and community leaders, have been hard at work shaping plans for the improvement projects — the largest and most complicated of many more to be financed by the $283 million bond approved by voters in 2017. At Open Houses in the coming weeks, community members will have a chance to preview the still-developing plans (see the schedule of events below).

“This is such an exciting time for the District,” says Canyons District Board of Education President Sherril H. Taylor. “We’re not just building schools, we’re building communities. With the completion of these projects, all of our high schools will be brought up to a high quality facilities standard. The safety and technological upgrades will improve the learning environments for generations of students, including the children of those now enrolled. It’s a momentous undertaking, and one that wouldn’t be possible without our patrons.”

The high schools will be built in phases over 2-3 years so as to allow them to remain in operation during the construction. Tackling all three at once is ambitious, but in order to keep costs contained, it was imperative to get to work as quickly as possible, says CSD’s Business Administrator Leon Wilcox.

Construction costs have soared, and are expected to continue to rise in the near future, Wilcox says. “We want to lock-in costs now on the largest and most complicated bond projects.”

Each project varies according to the priorities established by the school communities. But among common focuses are school safety, sustainability, and futuristic thinking. Wilcox says, “We’re building these schools to last and to accommodate the rapidly changing technological demands and instructional practices of modern classrooms.”

Careful attention is also being paid to preserve recent investments, such as the schools’ new football stadiums. Taking cues from research on the health and learning benefits of natural light, large windows and skylights are planned for commons areas and classrooms.

Since Canyons’ inception, the District has worked to address the safety and technological deficiencies of the aging buildings it received from a previous school district while also planning for growth. The 13th and final project financed with proceeds from a bond approved by voters in 2010 — the renovation of Indian Hills Middle — will be completed in time for start of the 2018-2019 school year.

Everyone is invited to attend the community Open Houses to showcase plans for the high schools. There will be presentations by architects, and an opportunity to submit questions and comments. The dates, times and locations are as follows:

Brighton High School
Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium
Featuring MHTN Architects

Hillcrest High School 
Wednesday, April 18 starting at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium
Featuring FFKR Architects

Alta High School
Wednesday, April 25, 7-9 p.m. in the Auditorium
VCBO Architecture
After this weekend, the “once-in-a-lifetime” bucket lists of the singers in Hillcrest’s Vocal Ensemble and their director are a little lighter. Travel together to New York City? Check. Perform with a Grammy-winning composer and conductor? Check. Sing in Carnegie Hall? Check, check, and check. 

After more than a year of planning and practicing, Hillcrest choir director RaNae Dalgleish and her 33 vocal ensemble students took a red-eye to New York City during Spring Break to prepare for a performance in Carnegie Hall on Sunday, April 8. They were joined by high school choirs from Dubai, New Jersey, Tennessee, Canada, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California for the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) performance of The Music of Eric Whitacre. 

The opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall is a remarkable experience, but to perform composer Eric Whitacre’s music with him as the conductor is even more significant, said Dalgleish who also performed with her students on Sunday. “This is huge,” she said. “This is a once in a lifetime experience for the kids. I knew that going in, just to work with Eric Whitacre alone is monumental because he is a rock star in the music world.”

Dalgleish responded to an advertisement on Facebook more than a year ago when she saw the potential for her students to have such a unique experience. Her choir from the 2016-2017 school year auditioned for the performance, and they found out in December 2016 that the 2017-2018 choir had been accepted to perform at the event that was described by BBC Music as the “No. 1 North American Live Event Choice for classical music.”



“The Vocal Ensemble received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers,” said Dr. Jonathan Griffith, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for DCINY, in a news release about Hillcrest’s participation. “These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community.”

The choir began working on nine pieces for Sunday’s performance right away, recording and sending videos intermittently to the organization to ensure they would be prepared for the big stage. The students performed “The Rumor of a Secret King” by John Mackey, three spirituals by Moses Hogan, and several songs composed by Whitacre, including “Seal Lullabye,” which was originally written for a Disney movie that was later cancelled.

Whitacre is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music who has conducted choral and instrumental concerts around the globe, including with the London Symphony Orchestra.
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