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Strength & Conditioning

After graduating from Indiana University with my BS in Kinesiology, I took an internship working with elite-level athletes in the strength and conditioning (S&C), sports medicine, and sports nutrition settings. St. Vincent Hospital’s Sports Performance Center in Indianapolis is the one of the premier training facilities across nation. Their internship exposed me to a variety of injury prevention, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement programs amidst NBA and NFL athletes, Indy car drivers, Olympic gymnasts, Olympic swimmers and divers, Olympic track and field athletes, various local collegiate and youth athletes, and a variety of special needs patients. My specific work with the NBA pre-draft group at St. Vincent – which included Gordon Hayward and Patrick Patterson, both of whom went top 10 that year in the draft – led to my first position as a Head Performance Coach in Sarasota, Florida. During my time at the specialized preparatory academy for collegiate basketball prospects I was blessed to be able to network my way into a graduate scholarship for an NCAA Division One program at the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA). As the university’s first Graduate Assistant (GA) Strength and Conditioning Coach, I oversaw or assisted with the training programs for men’s and women’s golf, tennis, basketball, track, cross country, dance, volleyball, baseball, and soccer teams.

As I worked part-time for the athletics department, I was obtaining my graduate degree in kinesiology attending classes full-time. Another extremely valuable experience, the GA position afforded me a unique opportunity to learn from the formal education setting and immediately apply that knowledge practically in the field. Collaborating with team coaches and athletic trainers as well as professors and instructors in the exercise science department gave me a specialized insight into research-driven, quality exercise physiology and programming. Initially, my perception coming into the higher-end, athletic performance training world was that I that wouldn’t have to be as much a “cheerleader” as I had in personal training, because athletes would be more driven to push themselves. I quickly found out that 18- to 22-year-olds aren’t as disciplined and motivated as I thought they might be. At this point in my career, it was becoming more obvious that education and encouragement are at the forefront of getting the biggest buy-in out of people; to explain why they are doing an exercise or the purpose behind a drill is so much more powerful than simply showing someone how to do it properly. It’s like the “because I said so” answer we all got when we were kids from our parents; if you’re not able or willing to explain the reasoning for something you’re asking someone else to do, then you shouldn’t expect to have a very effective influence on that person. That lesson has become a transformational idea in my career and philosophy on leadership.

The athletic and tactical strength and conditioning field, especially at elite levels, is often in an entirely different realm of intellectualism than the majority of the exercise industry. Usually gym rats transformed into academic nerds, S& C coaches will have some of the most detailed, well-thought performance prescriptions you can imagine. I prided myself on the intellectual, elite-level performance training aspect of my role, but often times found myself acting as a sort of cheer leader, counselor, or confidant to the collegiate athletes. While working with younger athletes, you watch as they mature and, whether they knew it or not, search to become stronger psychologically as well as physically. Just like my roles of a collegiate coach and full-time graduate student as well as a personal trainer on the side, the roles a student-athlete has to fill can easily spiral into overwhelming amounts of stress. So, I constructed a unique approach to weight room conditioning to optimize self-efficacy, self-awareness, and performance mentality. We applied Psychological Skills Training techniques like visualization and imagery, self-talk, and pre-performance routines to our physical training routines. Speaking with other coaches and athletes-alike about the Individual Zone of Optimal Functioning model and implementing other lessons from sport psychology helped me develop a deeper understanding of motivation and the power of the human mind. 

In my two years at UTPA I watched coaches from all experience levels and ages come and go, including the head S&C coach that hired me and then his replacement again in less than a year. During my second semester as the GA the responsibility to lead the entire S&C department and the programs for 11 teams, consisting of 30-some coaches and over 300 athletes, fell on my shoulders alone. Needless to say, my part-time role was spread thin for an interim period of 6-months, and I learned tremendous amounts in a short frame of time. The number of hours spent communicating and collaborating with the athletic department, team coaches, and the athletic training staff became priority number one and went through the roof. I acted as the strength department head, the lead strength coach, a consultant to team coaches, and a counselor for the many of the young athletes all while scoring perfect marks in my studies and graduating with 4.0 from the Master’s program. This experience led me to write my exit research on factors that influence job security, satisfaction, and turnover for NCAA Division One coaches, but I am ever grateful for it. It was truly a blessing in disguise for my career! I got to work under three different head coaches and to learn from three different performance training philosophies and management styles. I authored two published research articles and graduated with honors. I was given an insane amount of responsibility but autonomy at the same time. I saw all of this as a challenge to rise above the expectations, to lead by example, and I came out the other side stronger. 

Over the course of my first four years in the S&C field, I had built a resume that included work with more than two dozen NBA and overseas professional basketball players and more than a dozen NFL athletes. I coached alongside Olympic coaches and retired professional athletes and amassed incredible knowledge from their experiences. The most rewarding part of it all, though, has always been watching those young men and women I coached go on to do important things in life, pursuing their passions, overcoming barriers, developing their own values, leading others, and making a difference in their communities. 

I've been fortunate to be part of the sports performance, player development, and/or rehabilitation programs for the following professional athletes: 
NBA & D-league: Greg Oden, Gordon Hayword, Patrick Patterson, AJ Slaughter, David Harrison, Marcus Landry, Chris Garnett, Garet Siler, Javaris Varnado, Jared Jeffries, [International Professionals]: Tremel Darden, Omar Rub, David Teague, Kenny Hayes, Adam Koch, Stuart Douglas, Jonathan Tavernari, Brandon Provost.


NFL: Kroy Beirmann, Ryan Baker, Jason Baker, Joe Reitz, KJ Gerard, Matt Lawrence, Hunter Smith, Jason Snow, Micheal Toudouze, Gary Bracket, Deon Branch, Donald Brown, Marlin Jackson, Tyjuan Hagler.

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