Standing in the green room watching as Performance Course chief executive officer Geno Pierce addressed a crowd of Stephenville High School female athletes, Joe Gillespie simply smiled.

"This is the best decision I've ever made as an athletic director in terms of getting both boys and girls to participate in an off-season program," Gillespie said.

The numbers back him up.

Stephenville had 300 junior high and high school athletes participate in the first day of Performance Course Monday. Performance Course provides professional strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers along who work to replace schools' traditional summer conditioning programs.

Gillespie said in past years, with SHS and HJH coaches guiding the summer conditioning, the average number of participants was between 120 and 130. And that included a paltry amount of girls.

"We were used to having about eight girls," he commented as Pierce stood about 30 yards away surrounded by high school girls. "Now we have 100."

Performance Course begins with testing so the first few days are slow. But as Pierce was informing the girls Monday, the course is not for the faint of heart.

"If you're looking for a fitness class, this isn't it," he said. "This is much more intense than anything of that nature."

Performance Course coaches also don't have the same UIL limitations as those associated with the school district.

"If we were doing this with our own coaches, we would have been done by 9 a.m.," said Gillespie as he glimpsed at his watch to see it was about 10. "As coaches, we can only have the kids for two hours a day and they can have them for three. They can also have them for one more day each week and one more week over the summer."

At a gain of an hour each day, a day at the end of the week and a seventh week of workouts instead of just six, the athletes gain 57 hours a week for their training. And not all that time is spent on the physical side of things. Classroom lessons are also key.

"They are getting injury prevention, nutrition training, and other things that are far better than what we could have done from within our own staff," Gillespie said. "This is going to be huge. I'm sold on it."

With 300 kids paying almost $200 to participate over the summer, it appears he isn't the only one.