Intern breaks gender stereotypes in weight room

Westminster recently hired Katelyn Peterson, a new female strength and conditioning coach, to intern with current strength and conditioning coach Eric Lougas. She is currently studying at the University at Idaho and is joining the Cats on an internship to help her graduate from Idaho. Although Peterson is not Westminster’s first female strength and conditioning intern, she is one of very few to have ever done it. Her coming and being a strength and conditioning coach intern has broken gender stereotypes of only men being strength and conditioning coaches and that males dominate the weight room aura.

Every year, the school has tried to hire interns and is looking to continue hiring interns years into the future.

“We have participated in the graduate assistant program at Georgia State for our athletics trainers for years and so this internship is similar in a lot of ways,” said athletic director Tim Downes.

Downes has a role in the hiring of these new interns, but he fully trusts Westminster coaches to make the final decision.

“Ultimately, I like to meet any of our potential staff members,” said Downes, “but it’s important that those who work with them most closely make the hiring decisions.”

In hiring Peterson, Lougas targeted her leadership and experience as a collegiate athlete to mentor Westminster students.

“Katelyn is a great addition and I see her being a great role model for both our female and male students,” said Downes.

Lougas is also pleased with Peterson’s skills as a strength and conditioning coach. For almost 12 years, Lougas has shaped Westminster students into some of the finest athletes around. There were 26 athletes that signed to go play various sports at the collegiate level on National Signing Day on Feb. 3. Almost every football coach will say: championships are won in the weight room. Lougas is very pleased with her improvement and learning ability since she first came to Westminster.

“The students listen to her,” said Lougas. “She’s got good knowledge of the weight room and the lifts that we’ve done. She’s picked up everything that I’ve taught her.”

The students have really enjoyed Peterson being here as well. Many interns fly under the radar and no students know much about them, but that is not the case with Peterson.

“I’ve never had an intern where students, male and female, talk about her and what she’s doing in the weight room,” said Lougas. “That tells me that she’s doing her job and doing a good job at it.”

Lougas ranks Peterson highly in comparison to the previous interns he has worked with in the past.

“I think she’s probably the best intern I’ve had so far,” said Lougas.

Peterson’s athletic skills are not only within the weight room’s limits. She is a tremendous athlete at Idaho, where she competes in both volleyball and track and field. She achieved all-conference levels in both sports. Her specialty in track and field is the high jump. On a weekly basis, she coaches the high jumpers of the Westminster varsity track and field team with head coach Gary Jones.

“She wants to be involved, which is totally different than any other interns I’ve had,” said Lougas. “Just the way she coaches, she’s got the athletes respect [because] she knows what she’s talking about.”

Peterson will go back to Idaho during spreak break for the start of her track and field season. Lougas believes that having Peterson has contributed to a recent influx of females in the weight room, but he is confident that when she has to go back to Idaho, girls will continue to come to the weight room.

“I think having a female has its value, but I still think we do a good job as far as making the girls feel welcome in here,” said Lougas.