Getting Healthy, Getting Tough: Mystics Welcome Ciaravella

What do future NFL Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter have in common with the Washington Mystics?

They were both trained by Lisa Ciaravella, the Mystics new strength and conditioning coach.

Hired by the organization in December, Ciaravella brings a wealth of experience and an edge of toughness to a young Mystics squad.

When Ciaravella joined the now defunct Miami Sol in 1999, she was amongst the WNBA’s first full-time strength and conditioning coaches. After leaving Miami in 2003, Ciaravella helped lead the Connecticut Sun to four playoff appearances and two trips to the WNBA Finals.

“My philosophy is to treat each athlete as an individual,” Ciaravella said. “You have to look at their individual weaknesses and strengths so you can fill in the gaps to get them where they need to be.”

As a student at Elon College, Ciaravella was drawn to the idea that she could make a living exercising. After landing an internship at the prestigious IMG Sports Academy, Ciaravella caught the eye of All-Pro Minnesota Vikings receiver Cris Carter.

Before she knew it, Ciaravella was working for Carter and training 15 of his buddies. Despite being the only female on Carter’s staff, Ciaravella made her presence felt.

“One day Cris pulled me aside, turned my hat backwards, and said, ‘You’re one of us. You might look like a chick but you don’t train like a chick,’” Ciaravella said.

During the off-season, Ciaravella runs her own North Carolina based physical therapy and sports performance training practice. Her clientele ranges from spinal cord injury victims to high school athletes with ankle sprains. The diversity of patients has taught Ciaravella the importance of keeping her players healthy.

“It’s definitely important to focus on injury prevention first,” Ciaravella said. “Then we make our athletes faster, stronger, and more powerful.”

When training camp begins in May, Ciaravella hopes to lay the foundation for the rest of the season. Though she promises to teach the team a new way of working out, Ciaravella remains committed to her individualistic training approach.

With a solid core of players already in place and a nucleus of young players to develop, Ciaravella looks forward to opening up the lid on this team’s potential.

“It’s definitely going to be an exciting summer with all the changes that have been made,” Ciaravella said. “Everything’s been really positive. I’m really excited for how everything is going to go.”