Hickman Football Flexes with Yoga
Columbia's Hickman High School football squad includes several positions you don't see on every team.
"I bought a tape at Barnes and Noble and, quite honestly, self-taught myself," said offensive line coach Steve Luetjen. "We call it mind and body power stretching."
It's quite a stretch to take these lineman off the field and onto the mats.
"I tell my kids this will be the most intense and relaxing things they will ever do," Luetjen added. "A lot of them, unless they've ever done it, they rolled their eyes."
Center Lucas Little admitted, "It streaches you. It pushes you, takes you to the limit. It hurts."
Linebacker Mike Alfaro added, "This makes you realize the pain, and how easy it is to give up. It just makes you stronger."
Tight end, Eric Gregory said, "It just really helps with your flexibility. It's not pain, it's more of your muscles are just tight and you're loosening them."
Luetjen's class is not only about building strength of body, it's also building strength of mind.
"You can teach kids to relax and breath deep," he said. Leutjen and his players perform power stretching once a week for 30 minutes.
Players describe the process as going to a happy place and thinking of something else while doing yoga.
But, it's a happy place under stadium lights on game nights without soothing music or soft voices. After all, these are football players.