By Wesley Leffelman
Ron Randleman Fitness Center: this is an area of campus that most students are familiar with. Randleman, Penn’s athletic weight room, is visited by more than 600 student athletes annually, as well as coaches and other faculty members. It is safe to say that it is a heavily used weight room, however, if you walked in between workouts you would be surprised just how nice and in order things are. The smooth operation of Randleman is due to the extremely high level of dedication displayed by the Strength and Conditioning staff here at Penn.
The usual workday for a strength coach begins with being at work around 5:30 AM to set up for the upcoming 6 AM workouts. From there the six coaches in the weight room train a couple different hundred athletes all throughout the day.
When speaking with head strength coach, Jon Haugen, he spoke about the true grind that it really is for so few coaches to be responsible for such a high workload, but that is just the trend of the trade.
The coaches tend to often work anywhere from 11-14 hour days for up to six days a week. On top of all of that the strength staff also does work with both Pella and Oskaloosa High School Athletic Departments. One would be hard pressed attend to an athletic event here on campus where there is not at least one strength coach in attendance, which is just another example of how much time they really put into helping their athletes find success. Coach Haugen also spoke on how this kind of schedule can really wear the coaches down; making Thanksgiving or winter break just as needed for them as it is by the students.
These coaches show an extremely high level of dedication to work these hours but it is because they have a lot they need to get done. In the most traditional sense, the goals of a strength coach are to make an athlete stronger, faster and more explosive; however, there is far more to it than that. Coach Haugen explained how they also have their main mindset of working to help make athletes more flexible and improve range of motion in order to help the athletes be more durable. From there he took it in a direction that most people do not see when they look at the job of a strength coach.
Haugen spoke on how the coaches really work to discipline their athletes and to hold them accountable to a point that it begins to translate not only to the playing field but also to everything else in their lives. Overall, the coaches see it as their responsibility to not only make their athletes better on the field but in general to help them be more successful in life and that is the drive that keeps those coaches dedicated and determined to keep working.