Wings West Partners with Athletic Mentors to Help Young Athletes Get the Edge at New Training Facility

August 1st, 2017 by Athletic Mentors

Coach Mark Olson pictured during K-Wings workout. Olson will now also head the Wings West off-ice training programs.

Come September, young athletes in Kalamazoo will be able to “get the edge” with world-class off-ice training programs thanks to a new partnership between Wings West of Greenleaf Hospitality Group and Athletic Mentors, the area’s premier athletic training organization for ice sports.

The first phase of the new training facility at Wings West, located off 9th Street in Kalamazoo, will focus on programs developed for the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA), the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association (GKSA), and the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League.

“We are excited see the new space come together,” says Danielle Brandenburg, General Manager of Wings West.

“The investment in the space will be well worth the positive impact it can have on youth sports in the area.”

The partnership has been met with enthusiasm by local hockey program leaders.

“Injury prevention is a key advantage to off-ice training with Athletic Mentors, along with helping athletes learn how to live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition programs,” said Kristen Crandle, President of GKSA.

Frank Noonan of the KOHA says his organization is “really looking forward to the competitive edge we will gain by working with the utmost premier hockey trainers in the area.”

Athletic Mentors will be working with the coaches to identify the overall goals of the teams and then design programs based on strengths and weaknesses. Mark Olson and Cheryl Sherwood, founders of Athletic Mentors, stress the importance of the customization of their programs.

AM Hockey operates summer hockey camps in dryland training shown here at the Richland facility, as well as on-ice speed skating and skill drills.

“Every athlete is unique and requires a customized strength training and skill development program that helps them achieve peak performance both individually and within the team dynamic,” said Mark Olson, head coach and co-founder of Athletic Mentors.

The AM Hockey coaches are no strangers to training on-ice athletes. Athletic Mentors works with the Kalamazoo Wings in-season to stay game-ready. The company is also widely known for its popular on-ice and off-ice hockey camps led by Olson, a former D-1 player, and key coaching staff Eddie Ward, former NHLer, and Stacie Barber, speed skating specialist. The summer programs blend performance-focused mental and physical conditioning with precise skill development to produce athletes who are ready to move up to the next level.

By early 2018, Athletic Mentors hopes to extend programming to meet the demand for community-wide health and fitness programs beyond hockey. Currently, the company offers sport programs in basketball, volleyball, soccer and football, as well as multi-sport training and coaching. Most recently, it has introduced individual fitness programs with metabolic testing, TRX bootcamp and Yoga classes at its Richland facility.

“We’d love to bring healthy living and recreation to the wider community of young athletes,” said Cheryl Sherwood, co-founder of Athletic Mentors and manager of the multi-sport team.

“It’s important to stay game-ready when you’re a team athlete. But it’s even more important to stay fit for life. And that starts with training smart.”


For more information on Wings West, KOHA, or GKSA, please visit To learn more about Athletic Mentors and their programs available, please visit

Wings West, owned and operated by Greenleaf Hospitality Group, is home to the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association, Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League, Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association, and Adult Hockey leagues. Built in 2002, Wings West is a committed partner in bringing youth and adult ice sporting events to the Kalamazoo community.

Athletic Mentors’ Alumnus Stefan Noesen Scores First NHL Goal for Ducks

December 8th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors
Athletic Mentor Hockey Camp Alumnus Stefan Noeson scores his first NHL goal for the Annaheim Ducks

Athletic Mentor Alumnus Scores First NHL Goal 3 Games Into Career with Anaheim Ducks. Image and screen shot of headline from

Congratulations  to Athletic Mentors’ mentoree and alumnus Stephan Noesen who did us proud last night scoring his first NHL goal for the Anaheim Ducks.

“Stefan has been an outstanding member of Athletic Mentors’ Hockey Camp and has worked hard to build his strength, speed, and agility after injuries. His unstoppable nature made this moment a triumph over past tribulations,” AM Coach Mark Olson said. “We’re ecstatic for him!”

According to a press release published by the Anaheim Ducks, Noesen buried a one-timer from the slot in the second period of Anaheim’s eventual 6-5 shootout victory over the visiting Hurricanes, raising both fists to the rafters and breaking out in a beaming ear-to-ear grin. Wednesday night was just his third NHL game with the Ducks.

“I saw the red light and threw my hands up,” said the 23-year-old winger. “It was all the emotion from two long years coming at me all at once.”

Watch Stefan’s First NHL Goal

According to a story by Adam Brady for the, those two years were more than any athlete should be asked to endure. Noesen  battled through not one, but two devastating injuries that each kept him off the ice for extended periods of time. First was the torn ACL, MCL and meniscus suffered soon after being acquired by the Ducks in 2013, and a year later there was the partially torn Achilles that put him on the shelf for most of the 2014-15 campaign.

Brady wrote that in an odd way, Noesen had an impact on the Ducks franchise even before he was acquired by Anaheim. Ducks GM Bob Murray has acknowledged that Anaheim wanted to take Noesen with the 22nd selection of the 2011 NHL Draft, but the Senators snatched him up one pick prior. The Ducks quickly swung a deal with Toronto to send that 22nd pick to the Leafs for the 30th and 39th, which became franchise cornerstones Rickard Rakell and John Gibson.

Two years later the Ducks got Noesen anyway, dealing Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Noesen and a 2014 first round draft pick they used to select Nick Ritchie.

Read the full story of Noesen’s triumph here:

Draft components for future Rice and Sosnoski profiles

August 12th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors

Carley Rice

Rice began training with AM in 2008 as an 8th grader. Her natural talent developed immensely, allowing her to play on the state soccer team as a sophomore and junior at Gull Lake and train with the Olympic Development Program. She was a four-year letter winner and two-year captain with one state championship under her belt, so she had substantial leadership experience entering the collegiate level at Detroit Mercy.

Training for NCAA Division 1 competition isn’t an imaginable feat until you’re placed in the position. Competition wasn’t solely for opponents now; Rice understood that in order to consistently make the starting squad, she had to go beyond.

Her hard work paid off rather quickly, as Rice saw time in all 20 matches her freshman year with eight starts. She entered her sophomore year with two assists, looking for further improvement. In 2014, she started 15 games and made her first collegiate goal in a victory against Bowling Green.

In addition to her climbing success as a collegiate athlete, Rice maintains a 4.0 GPA in pre-dental/pre-pharmacy.

The Detroit Mercy women’s soccer team finished second in the Horizon League conference this year, making their first appearance in the championship game since 2006. Watch Rice and the Titans next year as she enters her junior year strong.

Kendra Sosnoski

Sosnoski carries on the tradition of being a Michigan Tech Husky (her father played football), so she was aware of what it took to be a Division II athlete. She left high school as an all-conference, all-district and all-area player, a former MVP and senior co-captain of the same Gull Lake championship squad Harma and Rice were on.

Sosnoski plays on the Husky defense, and is majoring in biology. Their 2014 year finished well, with a confident winning record and a trip to the NCAA tournament. Look for her training through the rest of 2015 for her third year at Michigan Tech.

Custom Coaching Packages Available! (Mistake blog, but might be useful!)

August 11th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors


Right now most of us are bundling up, looking out our windows at snow covered streets, watching temperatures drop and wondering when the wind chill will cease. A lot of folks are so busy thinking about the weather right now, they’re not prepared for later. Tri-season will, in fact, be on us before we know it.

We all know there’s nothing better than hitting the bike, the road, or the first open water swim of the season and feeling the work we did all winter paid off. Hitting the tri-season prepared for races gives you the edge. A lot of athletes stick to the same training plan they always use, and each summer they hit the circuit with few gains. Certainly we’re not all equal out on the course, why should we believe that about the gym?

There’s no better way to train than to have a professional help build a personalized training plan designed to maintain and build on your strengths while addressing weak areas and promoting your growth.

Why not let Athletic Mentors, and their coaches, help you have the best tri-season of your life? With over 20 years experience, AM coaches will tailor a daily training plan to help you meet your goals. Not only will you receive the personalized daily training plan with online access and a consultation with a coach, but athletes who opt for the Coaching Subscription will also get baseline and progress testing, an in-pool training session, one-on-one coaching sessions, and nutrition planning!

For more information about the Custom Training plan with a discount for GR Tri participants, click here.

For more information about the Coaching Subscription, click here.

Let this be your best tri season yet. Treat yourself to workouts this winter for a summer of success!


There’s no Y in Tri: Free Clinics to Help You Meet Your 2015 Tri Goals

April 28th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors

For many, the idea of a triathlon is intriguing, but daunting. There seems to be so much to consider and even more to learn. Stop asking why and start asking when. No one ever got to the finish line without ever lining up at the start, right?

In conjunction with the Grand Rapids Triathlon, Athletic Mentors will present you with all the information you need to get you to the starting line of your first…or next…triathlon and see you all the way to the finish. You won’t want to miss any of these amazing (and FREE) opportunities!

Starting this Saturday, January 17th, you have the opportunity to get the inside scoop on training, nutrition, equipment, racing tips, transitions, and rules from athletes who have been there, and back again (9-10:30am). Following that session, athletes looking to improve their efficiency in the water can learn about swim techniques and training (10:30am-noon). It’s an amazing chance to get an inside look and idea of what you can expect as you begin to train.

Later, on February 28, the clinic returns to offer you the opportunity to really hone in on specific skills and strategies on both the bike and run portions (February 28, 9am-11am). Then, on May 30, just two weeks from the race, you can participate in a Race Day Clinic which will answer all the questions you have about actual race day, from wave information to parking and spectator access.

Finally, one week from race day, June 7, mentors and coaches will take you on a pre-race swim and ride to get you acclimated to the course. This is the perfect opportunity for athletes new to the tri to quell any last minute nerves and take advantage of one last training session and on-course tips from the pros!

These clinics offer an amazing opportunity for the new and returning tri-athlete to learn techniques from the pros. Clinic attendees also get special deals on Athletic Mentors Custom Training Plan and 20% off the video stroke analysis!

All clinics (except pre-race swim and ride) are held at the downtown Grand Rapids YMCA and are completely free! You must register to participate.

To get more details, check out the Grand Rapids Tri site here.

To register for the clinics, click here.

April 24th, 2016 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

It’s that time of the year when most athletes will sit down to write goals for the next year. The first step in the process should be to take a look back at the season that just ended and analyze what worked and what didn’t work. You should have a good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses were. Most athletes mistakenly think that improving their biking ability, even if that is their strength, is the easiest way for them to improve their overall time. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Of course coaching can help prevent this situation because they will ensure you work to improve your weakest of the disciplines.

Goals should be process focused and not outcome focused. A good goal should not be impacted by external factors. No one has control over a goal that can be determined by weather or who is competing in the race. An example of a good race goal is patience. This could mean that you will focus on appropriately pacing yourself during the first half of an ironman bike, even when all your competitors are flying by.

After you create a list of possible races and have thought about some realistic but challenging goals then you can start putting together the specific steps you will take to achieve this. If your overall goal is to improve your half iron time by 15 minutes then you need to determine what you need to work on in the off season to accomplish this. This might mean early morning strength sessions, increasing your swim frequency in December and January, or training with a power meter to better realize gains on the bike.

Most importantly write the goals down! Writing goals down forces you to clearly define and clarify them. According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans don’t have goals, 16% do have goals, but don’t write them down and less than 1% actually review them on an ongoing basis. Actually putting the goals onto paper and reviewing them at least quarterly will help you accomplish new levels of success in the upcoming season.

Now Offering VO2 and Metabolic Testing!

April 16th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors

Athletic Mentors offers VO2 and Metabolic testing for athletes looking to step up their game, or those looking for an extra edge in their weight loss program. We have specialized equipment on-site that will give you a detailed and personalized profile on your metabolic rate and maximum oxygen usage is. Athletes use the test results to avoid crashes, prevent injury, and to maximize the benefits of their training sessions.

Your metabolism is a series of chemical processes within your body that keeps your cells fueled with nutrients. Since no two metabolisms are exactly the same, understanding the rate at which your body converts and uses energy can be paramount in getting the best results from your workout. Understanding how your metabolism works and reacts to exercise can be instrumental in getting the most out of your fitness plan.

Another important piece of the puzzle is finding out how much oxygen you’re using. Your VO2 maximum is the measurement of how much oxygen you can use during exercise, expressed in a liters-per-minute rate based on your body weight. The test consists of running on a treadmill or on an exercise bike at incrementally increasing speeds and intensity. The machine measures your heart rate through a cuff, and a mask measures the amount of oxygen you intake and calculates a rate.

A VO2 maximum test is widely considered to be the most accurate way to measure an athlete’s aerobic and cardiovascular fitness, and can help trainers dial in their workouts for increased results and track their progress. This test also measures how many calories are burned at different intensities of activity, giving insight to athletes about adjusting their diets for optimal gains and increased endurance in the field.

Train Like a Pro with Trainers of Pros: Athletic Mentors Coaches K-Wings for Strength and Conditioning

March 17th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors
Coach Mark Olson working with the K-Wings pro hockey team during a pre-season testing session. Athletic Mentors is the team's strength and conditioning trainer.

Coach Mark Olson working with the K-Wings pro hockey team during a pre-season testing session. Athletic Mentors has been named the team’s professional strength and conditioning coaching staff.

Athletic Mentors’ slogan is Train Like a Pro. The slogan has taken on a new dimension for up and coming hockey players now that AM is the professional strength and conditioning coaching staff for the Kalamazoo K-Wings of the ECHL.

This summer, athletes in the popular Dryland and Ultimate Ice hockey camps at Athletic Mentors might also have a chance to train alongside some of those pros.

Named the K-Wings strength and conditioning coaching staff in the fall of 2015, Coach Mark Olson says the designation has helped strengthen the Athletic Mentors hockey program beyond its already robust, national reputation. This year, the Ultimate On-Ice Skills and Power Skating Package has expanded to offer a straight Power Skating option.

How K-Wings Training Helps Campers

“Working with the K-Wings is of tremendous benefit for our hockey kids in a couple of ways. First of all, coaching a greater number of high level, pro players in-season elevates the skill level of our own coaching team,” said Olson. “We love being part of the team and helping the coaching staff focus on running the team.”

“Secondly, it’s inspiring for younger, amateur players to train in the same place, with similar programs, as the pros.”

Olson expects some of the in-state K-Wings players will continue their strength and conditioning training throughout the summer. Others will return in-season, and some may even move up to the NHL.

Olson has his trainer’s eye on one passionate, driven player he expects has the work ethic to make it to the next level: Anton Cederholm, the Vancouver Canucks draft pick. He describes the Sweden native as one of the “more driven” players in terms of being consistent with his off-ice training.

While there are many similarities between the K-Wings training and the Dryland hockey summer camps, the pros net a higher training volume using more advanced techniques and higher overall intensity, Olson says.

“We’re dealing with very seasoned athletes on the K-Wings. We love working with them, and making a positive impact.”

AM-Adbit2016HockeyRegistration Open for Summer Hockey Dryland Training and Ultimate On-Ice and Power Skating Camps

Olson says he’s excited to open registration on this summer’s Hockey Camp and Ultimate On-Ice packages for Young Elite, Elite, and aspiring Pros.

“Our Ultimate Skills & Power Skating package was so popular last year, we’ve expanded the program to include stand-alone Power Skating packages for all age groups,” Olson said.

Since skating is the key to skill development, even the youngest players can benefit from working with Pro Power Skating coach Stacy Barber and Olson’s all-star coaching team. NHL agent and pro, Eddie Ward and first-round NHL draft pick and rising star, Stefan Noeson round out the team.
“The combination of our intense Dryland off-season camp with our Ultimate On-Ice skills and Power Skating package will enhance our athletes’ stride, strength and power for explosive stops and starts on ice,” said Olson. “Players will learn new skills that can only be taught by coaches that have played or are playing at the highest level.”
Also back this year is an attractive all-inclusive accommodation package for athletes who hail from afar or who just want the full camp experience. This year’s residence is a well-appointed Gull Lake home that will provide a resort-style experience.
Visit our Hockey Registration Center to learn more.

Athletic Mentors Coach’s Corner: K-Wings to Raise Cash for Victims’ Families

February 24th, 2016 by Athletic Mentors

The Kalamazoo Wings (K-Wings) ECHL pro Hockey Team is hard at work in Athletic Mentor’s dryland training program. Athletic Mentors was named the team’s official Strength and Conditioning trainers for the 2015-2016 season.

Athletic Mentors invites you to support the K-Wings pro hockey team as it aims to raise cash to help victims of last weekend’s mass shooting. The Kalamazoo ECHL team is donating $2 from the proceeds of every ticket sold to its next home game March 5th against the Utah Grizzlies. In addition, arch rivals, the Toldeo Walleyes, have offered to donate $5,000 toward community outreach. (Get tickets here.)WE are Kalamazoo JPEG.jpg

In an emotional moment Sunday night at the regularly scheduled league game, the K-Wings and Walleyes stood together in remembrance of the eight victims in the random shootings perpetrated Saturday by a suspected area Uber driver.

“Our lives may never be the same,” said K-Wings director of sales Toni Daniels in a press release. “But we want to be able to provide the city of Kalamazoo an outlet—an opportunity for lives to feel normal.”

The K-Wings have set an organizational goal of $10,000 worth of donations that will be accumulated through ticket sales and auction items. In addition, the Toledo Walleye have pledged nearly $5,000, the Utica Comets of the AHL will be providing memorabilia to be auctioned for the fund on March 5 in Kalamazoo, and the ECHL have announced their plans to donate a portion of the jersey auction proceeds from the 2016 CCM/ECHL Hockey Heritage games, which were celebrated in Kalamazoo in early February. The ECHL will also be encouraging other member teams and their fans to do the same to support their fellow ECHL community.

Read the rest of this entry »

Deep Sleep: What is it and how to get more of it.

February 8th, 2016 by Cheryl Sherwood

By,  Elizabeth Kayfish,  Athletic Mentors Coach

Deep sleep, also known as slow wave sleep, is the combination of stage 3 and 4 of your sleep cycle. During this time your body is calm and has no muscle or eye movements2.  This type of restorativdeep-sleepe, restful sleep
comes right
before your REM cycle, and getting a good dose of deep sleep is important because tissue repair is at its fastest during this time4. Many people who find themselves not feeling rested after the night have missed
out on the essential deep sleep. Although the hormones responsible for this type of sleep lessen as you get older, research studies have found a few alternatives to increase your time in this stage4.  Here are so tips so you can feel a little more refreshed in the morning!

  1. Stay away from the alcoholic beverages before bed to ensure you reach your full sleep potential. Alcohol, which often tends to make one fall asleep fast, prevents deep sleep from occurring2.
  2. Exercise is the cure all! Several studies have shown that exercising, both anaerobically and aerobically, can increase the amount of time you are in deep sleep. A good workout and an a
    ctive lifestyle can promote deep sleep length; just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime4.
  3. Have some naturally scented lavender soaps, lotions, candles and/ or oils around before bed. Sensory therapy, like aromatherapy, has been shown to improve one’s night rest. A recent study showed increases in the percentage of deep sleep in a night after the use of lavender oils3.
  4. Keep the carbohydrates light at dinner and before bed. Studies have shown that compared to a carbohydrate heavy meal 4 hours before bed, a very light carbohydrate meal increased the percentage of time in deep sleep cycles1.
  5. Try to eliminate stressors throughout your day and before bed. You cannot control the age-related factor of decreasing deep sleep with age, but you can create a stress-free environment before you go to sleep to counter the effect. Try to have a regular pre-bedtime schedule and unwind with a bath, book, or soothing music5.




  1. Afaghi, A., O’Connor, H., and Chow, C.H. (2008). Acute effects of the very low carbohydrate diet on sleep indices. Nutr. Neurosci. 11: 146-154.
  2. Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from
  3. Goel, N., Hyungsoo, K., and Lao, R.P. (2005). An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiology International: The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research, 22, 5. DOI: 10.1080/07420520500263276
  4. Sleepdexorg. (2016). Sleepdexorg. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from
  5. The Mysterious Benefits of Deep Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from