As a kid, Wendy LeBolt ’83 never stopped moving. As an adult, not much has changed. “I process the world through movement,” LeBolt says.
A former all-around athlete, she now brings 23 years of soccer parenting, 15 years of soccer coaching and 10 years of teaching exercise and sport science to Fit2Finish, an organization that works with athletes, coaches and parents to keep youth sports healthy. Her new book, Fit 2 Finish: Keeping Your Soccer Players in the Game, released in 2015, introduces LeBolt’s method behind the Fit2Finish training program and shows how to bring safe fitness to youth soccer players.
Growing up in Maryland, LeBolt participated in a variety of sports, including basketball, golf, tennis, swimming and softball. She went on to play on William & Mary’s golf team, and in 1981, the team won a national championship. They were eventually inducted into the William & Mary Athletics Hall of Fame.
LeBolt received her degree in biology and went on to earn a master’s in exercise science from George Washington University and her Ph.D. in physiology from the Medical College of Virginia. While on the faculty at George Washington University, she taught anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, and kinesiology. She thought about staying in education, but LeBolt found that she wanted more time with her husband and three children. So she moved from teaching to coaching and training when she founded Fit2Finish in 2001.
“Sports help you develop character, discipline, persistence, and you finish what you start,” says LeBolt. She wanted to make sure athletes had the opportunity to experience all that athletics had to offer by making sports a lifelong, healthy pursuit. Since young players need special care to develop their skills and bodies while they are still growing, LeBolt founded Fit2Finish to address these needs, as well as the growing epidemic of knee injuries in young female athletes.
“Girls rely too much on one set of muscles to jump and land,” LeBolt says. “This means when they land, they can be more prone to injury. I teach techniques that will hopefully keep them ‘fit to finish’ the game, the season or their athletic career.”
The organization specializes in designing age-appropriate and sport-specific training, which reduces injuries and improves performance. LeBolt created some of the first injury prevention training programs for teen and pre-teen soccer and basketball athletes. For younger athletes who lack the strength and coordination to execute this training, she developed games designed to prevent injuries by establishing safer, balanced movement.
Because coaches have limited practice time and kids would rather “play” than “work out,” Fit2Finish training blends right into the the coaches’ practice plan, and safer movement becomes a natural part of how they play. (The kids just think it’s fun.)
In addition to information relating to the latest news in health and fitness found on the website, fit2finish.com, the organization also provides workshops for coaches and parents, injury prevention training, movement analysis for athletes in a variety of sports, and post-rehab training for athletes after injury or surgery. The Fit2Finish YouTube Channel also provides sample drills for different age groups.
LeBolt claims she is a scientist turned writer. She has published numerous articles on topics relating to health, wellness, fitness and sports performance, and she writes weekly for the KickingFit blog on Soccerwire.com.
Her book Fit 2 Finish: Keeping Your Soccer Players in the Game demonstrates how to bring fun and high performance fitness to youth soccer players. With the growing number of kids playing soccer, the number of injuries has grown as well. LeBolt claims that more games and early specialization have all contributed to the problem, as have methods of training. LeBolt discusses how to improve kids’ fitness, protect them from injury, speed recovery, stay healthy and challenge them to achieve peak performance.
While running her own business can sometimes be a burden with the amount of costs and time invested, LeBolt says that working with kids and knowing she’s doing something to help them achieve great things makes all the difference. She understands the science behind the fitness and puts that science into a language that athletes, parents and coaches can understand.
“I can’t just sit on the sidelines and know what I know,” LeBolt says. “I need to help out.”