Built not bought: an insight on HHS Strength Coach Aaron Letinski


Ryne Wiseman

Aaron Letinski has served as a long-time substitute teacher at Highlands High School, now acting as HHS’s new strength coach.

     The barbell slams into the rack. The dumbbell hits the metal hard as it gets put back. Players grunt and sweat as music blares in the background. It’s just another intense workout, something the athletes are used to by now.

     According to Highlands High School (HHS) Athletic Director Wes Caldwell, he knew Aaron Letinski was right for the job based on his background. 

     “He’s had a little bit of experience in all of the aspects we’re looking for here at Highlands which I think separates him from all the other candidates.” 

     Long-term HHS Substitute Teacher Letinski now serves as the new HHS Strength and Nutrition Coach. He joined Highlands this year, having experience in his field and a lot to give to HHS. 

     According to Letinski, he has been a strength coach at various other schools before coming to HHS.

     “I’ve kind of been all over the country. I started at Eastern Michigan University, after that, I was at the University of Buffalo. I was at William Penn University (Iowa), then after that, I was a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois University. Then after SIU, I went to Tippecanoe Valley High School in Indiana and now I’m here at Highlands.”

     Letinski trains a wide variety of sports at HHS, ranging from dance to baseball.

     “Right now I’m working with [the] baseball [team] and I have an off-season group Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, [which is] for anybody who’s an off-season athlete. I also have cheer, dance, and girls basketball that I’m working out right now.”

     With Letinski also being a substitute teacher, he is able to build strong relationships with the athletes. Caldwell noted how important this is between an athlete and their strength coach.

Emily Heilman - HHS Film and Broadcast

     “He builds great relationships with the kids around here, so it’s not just seeing him after school, you get to see him in school. He gets to interact with our student-athletes, and it helps build that great relationship that we’re looking for.”

     While some training programs may seem repetitive, Letinski likes to keep his workouts lively and energetic.

     “If you’re in the weight room with me I want it fun, I want it loud, I want music going, you know I want us to have a good time but also work very hard.”

     It’s no question that Letinski’s workouts produce results in terms of overall athleticism and physique, according to Senior Charlie Gorman, as Letinski’s workouts have helped him progress nicely.

     “I’ve never been one to really enjoy just straight powerlifting, so I really like what he does because it’s all functional movements, [which] allows you to build strength but you’re also getting more athletic through functional exercises that build up smaller muscles rather than just focusing on and building up your bigger muscles.”

     According to Letinski, he thinks that working at HHS could be a long-term job for him. 

     “So throughout my time at each of those colleges and schools, I’ve been in seven states. My girlfriend and I have been together all those seven years….It was just that point in my life, and Highlands had a position and I jumped all over it.”

     Letinski’s workouts may be challenging, but they push students to be the best athlete that you can be, according to Gorman. 

     “I’d say that Mr. Letinski’s workouts are definitely difficult [but] I think they push you. He’s not afraid to call you out if he thinks you’re not doing the right amount of work or if you need to go up or down on weight.”

     While many only know the strength trainer side of Letinski, he also has various other hobbies that students and athletes alike can relate to.

     “I’m an Xbox guy. I like playing Fortnite, Call of Duty, and that’s pretty much most of what I play, you know just action games, and I crank 90’s with the boys on Saturdays.”

     According to Caldwell, the improvements of the players in Letinkski’s program are very visible.

     “It’s just the overall appearance of our players. We’re getting a lot bigger, a lot faster, a lot stronger which is what we want to see and that’s a testament to him. He’s got graphs that show players and athletes from when they first started to where they are now and a lot of things are improving. I think that’s going to have a big impact when they step out on the field.”