If you were to ask me, or any of my college teammates about our Strength Coaches, you’d hear a few truths but far more embellishments. Did they live up to these stories and do things that seemed superhuman? Absolutely!
The truth is though, I can’t separate fact from fiction anymore. I ‘remember’ Donnie Sommer squatting 600 lbs for reps until we got tired. And of course he superset it with 65” box jumps at a weight of 300lbs (I’m being generous, Donnie!). Dave Toub was known to use mind control and unwavering eye contact to strike fear in young men so severe it would cause paralysis. Bob Jones’ utility skills meant he could fix anything (MacGyver style) over lunch break.
These men were our Superheroes. No other Strength Coaches in the nation were bigger, badder, tougher, or stronger. If your Strength Coach was strong or tough, ours were stronger and tougher. These men built their own houses with their bare hands. They ate lunch in under five minutes because it only took three bites to smash an entire burger. They drank non-sweet tea all day and ‘other’ beverages at night. You get the point?
Based on that, I’m sure you can guess what I wanted to be when I grew up? (too obvious?)
As Coach Pinkel once called us (Josh Stoner, Antwan Floyd, Scott Bird, Bryan Mann, Andrew Paul, and a few others): Bad A$$ Strength Coaches. And you know what? He was right. Whether we wanted to be or not, this is what we were.
Nowadays especially (with social media and increased game coverage), as a Strength Coach there are expectations to live up to. You’re expected to be one of the toughest, craziest, people walking on campus. There are people counting on you to perform, whether it’s an inherent part of your personality or not. Vince McMahon of the WWE doesn’t have to look any farther than a strength staff for his next Superstar.
This persona has brought with it a few misconceptions about who some of these people really are though. Most Strength Coaches I’ve been around are some of the best people you’ll ever meet. Some are the most thoughtful and kind-hearted people on Earth. Many are great fathers, mothers, spouses, and friends who would give you the shirts off their backs to help you. My hope is just that the Strength Coach knows who they really are at the end of the day – a role model for so many people.