Bethlehem News

Published on July 25th, 2018


High School Athlete Becomes College Athlete with Help from St. Luke’s

During her junior year of high school, Erika Antunes started taking college recruiting for soccer seriously.

“I wanted to be able to perform better than the players around me,” said Erika, who will graduate from Notre Dame–Green Pond in June, and then go on to Elizabethtown College where she will also play soccer.

In order to improve her performance, Erika joined St. Luke’s Fitness and Sports Performance: Commerce Way in Bethlehem and began training under the tutelage of Mike Conway, Director, St. Luke’s Fitness & Sports Performance Center.

The training paid off. Erika was recently named a Colonial League Academic All-Star, which recognizes her drive and accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom. Training with Conway has improved her both physically and mentally.

“I’ve definitely experienced different types of exercise that I never imagined myself doing,” Erika said. “At first, I thought I didn’t have to build up my upper body as a soccer play, but Mike has worked with me to get me stronger so that I don’t get pushed off the ball. I have more speed. My strength and endurance have improved.”

“Erika is an outstanding scholar-athlete,” Conway said. “She takes a lot of pride in everything she does. She not only pays soccer at a high level for her high school, but at a high club level, traveling outside the region to play top competition.”

Erika plays club ball for FC Europa out of Conshohocken and can’t wait to suit up for the Blue Jays of Elizabethtown in August.

Conway works with Erika both individually and as part of MetCon (metabolic conditioning) classes, and always has a plan.

Before they begin, he assesses how she’s feeling, if she trained for soccer that day or will train afterward so he understands her fatigue level. He’ll even ask about how many competitions she may have on the upcoming weekend to make sure there’s enough recovery time built-in to her training.

“I love that,” Erika sad. “And Mike makes everything I do different. It’s not mindlessly running on a treadmill. You never know what you’re going to get, but you always feel like you did something good.”

Conway calls her daily sessions a collaborative effort, and finds it remarkable that she refuses to skip a planned workout day even if a soccer practice gets hastily added into her day.

And she enjoys the demanding MetCon group sessions, where athletes train all three metabolic systems – sprint, anaerobic and aerobic – in 45 minutes to reach an ultimate fitness level.

It’s that kind of dedication and desire that makes Erika truly extraordinary athlete, and she’s seeing that effort pay off.

“In March we had a big tournament,” she said, “and I had a Thon event at school the day before, so I was tired, but I knew I had a game, and I told myself, ‘I can do this!’ I played all 90 minutes I won every single header, and I was able to get an assist on a goal. That’s when I knew that all the work was paying off.”

She’s an extraordinary young athlete pushing her way to the next level.

Photo Caption: Mike Conway and Erika Antunes during training session.

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