by Scott Caulfield, MA, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D and Lyndie Kelley, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, RSCC
Coaching Podcast October 2019
Lyndie Kelley, Coordinator of Strength and Conditioning at the University of New England (UNE), talks to the former NSCA Head Strength and Conditionin...
Lyndie Kelley, Coordinator of Strength and Conditioning at the University of New England (UNE), talks to the former NSCA Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield, about her journey from athlete to strength coach at UNE. Topics under discussion include coaching and mentoring a variety of athletes and students, finding creative solutions for things and being resourceful at the Division III level, and having a fully integrated team from the athletic staff all the way to the non-athletic administration. Find Lyndie on Instagram: @noreaster_strength | Find Scott on Instagram: @coachcaulfield
Lyndie Kelley, Coordinator of Strength and Conditioning at the University of New England (UNE), talks to the former NSCA Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield, about her journey from athlete to strength coach at UNE. Topics under discussion include coaching and mentoring a variety of athletes and students, finding creative solutions for things and being resourceful at the Division III level, and having a fully integrated team from the athletic staff all the way to the non-athletic administration.
“I think that that’s super important. There’s not enough great women in strength and conditioning. We need more.” 12:23
“I can be a chameleon on any given day. That’s another important skill, I think, is being able to jack yourself up, meet the team where they’re at, or bring them down. What do they need for the day? Set the temperature and be the thermometer.” 20:10
“I think that we have great capacity to multiply if we love something enough.” 37:27
“…be part of the solution not part of the problem. And so what can you do to make your situation better? How can you get creative about things?” 39:48
“Email: llibby2@UNE.edu; Instagram: @noreaster_strength” 43:51
“…and I think that’s critical for us in this field is to help the next one in line get better than you. If you’re insecure about somebody taking over your role, that’s not the way to be. Get better than me. Let’s advance this field one stair step at a time by standing on my shoulders.” 44:44
[00:00:00.85] Welcome to NSCA's coaching podcast episode 63.
[00:00:05.64] And I think that's critical for us in this field is to help the next one in line get better than you. You know, if you're insecure about somebody taking over your role, like, that's not the way to be. Like, get better than me. Let's advance this field one stair step at a time by standing on my shoulders.
[00:00:23.90] This is the NSCA's coaching podcast where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning and then there's everything else.
[00:00:34.60] Welcome to the NSCA coaching podcast, I am Scott Caulfield and today with me, Lyndie Kelley, Coordinator Strength and Conditioning at the University of New England and the NSCA's Maine State Director. Lyndie, welcome to the show.
[00:00:46.49] Thanks, Scott.
[00:00:47.29] Excited you're here. Another New Englander.
[00:00:50.49] That's right.
[00:00:50.95] Did you grow up in Maine? Are you from here?
[00:00:53.06] I did. Yeah, I grew up in a town called Buxton. It's about 20 minutes from the UNE campus.
[00:01:00.07] And went to high school in that area and then decided to continue my basketball career at UNE, so I didn't go far.
[00:01:08.60] Awesome, yeah, that's very cool. So you were an athlete there and then you've been there ever since you played?
[00:01:14.47] So I took about three years away from UNE. I worked at the largest orthopedic practice in the state at the time. We had performance physical therapy docs on site, so it was really cool, integrative approach. I did that for about three years and then got the opportunity to come home, so I did.
[00:01:29.81] That's nice. So UNE is Division III. What conference are you guys playing?
[00:01:35.93] We play in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
[00:01:37.48] Commonwealth, cool. Who is some of your other competitors there?
[00:01:39.82] We play Endicott College, Southern Regina, Western New England University, anybody who's kind of on that seaboard right there. We're the only school in Maine.
[00:01:49.72] OK, cool. And so did you have a strength coach when you were in college at that time?
[00:01:54.50] So we didn't have a full timer. Heath Pierce, who is our current director of aquatic exercise science, was running a program in our fitness facility at the time as well as teaching. And we had a coach named Pat McCarthy who would help us out and design us a program, show us how to do it. But in terms of how I do things at UNE now, nothing similar. We were super grateful for the help at the time, but we've grown tremendously since that time.
[00:02:21.31] Totally, yeah. Because you guys have like a brand new facility now and how old is that?
[00:02:28.60] So we just finished construction on that about a year and a half ago. And we had finished it completely but at the time, we were still phasing in a new wing to our athletics facility. So we actually split the facility for a bit of time with athletic training, and so they got their new home. So last December was actually-- or December before last, excuse me, was our first foray into the whole facility. So it's been recent and our whole athletics building was only about seven years old at the time.
[00:02:57.94] Oh wow.
[00:02:58.82] And then we went back in and redid it again. So it was a really neat experience as a student. I got to help Heath, on kind of a board of other students, decide what we would like in the facility. So I got to kind of give feedback as a student athlete. I never got to play in the building but what would I have wanted it to be? I was a senior.
[00:03:16.33] Awesome, yeah.
[00:03:17.17] And then to be able to redesign it as a professional, just the coolest experience.
[00:03:21.22] That's really neat. And was it tough getting money? Were you guys really working with administrators to get that budget set or was it kind of like, you've got it pretty decent or did you have to do some kind of extra booster fundraising? Division III can be a little interesting.
[00:03:40.51] It can be tricky. We're very fortunate and really blessed. Athletics has always been a bit on the forefront at UNE. My time there, we redesigned the logo and it really gained traction. We actually got a grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. And if you're from Maine or New England, Herald Alfond owned Dexter Shoe Company and it was very philanthropic and he really felt that it was important for young men and women to have athletics opportunities as well as academic opportunities.
[00:04:10.09] So his family graciously-- I believe we applied for the grant, I don't want to speak on that. And we were lucky enough to receive it. So that was the original money that we put into the Harold Alfond Forum with some matched fundraising. And then, we were able to get a secondary grant to go in and continue to build it.
[00:04:29.29] Very nice. Nice. And so backing up a little bit. When you went back to UNE, so you came from the physically therapies, was just like a job posting you saw, or did like Heath or McCarthy give you a kind of a heads up? Hey, I know you're doing some of this stuff in the field, what do you think about coming back?
[00:04:49.81] Yeah, interestingly enough, it was a kind of talk about different roads and routes that we take to where we get. I was very happy at the time at the Orthopedic Associates Performance Center, but Heath gave me a call one day and said, hey, Pat's moving on. And I was like, no way.
[00:05:07.98] But I had recently, that summer, agreed to be a volunteer assistant coach for the women's basketball team for Head Coach Anthony Ewing who's who I played for for four years.
[00:05:19.01] I was expecting my son, Jace, at the time and I had him seven days before the season began.
[00:05:25.37] Yeah, so I was already coaching at UNE and I knew that we needed a strength coach. I was acting in that capacity for a couple of the teams, kind of on a voluntary basis. And Heath called and said hey, you know, Pat's leaving. But the position was split between student affairs and athletics, so I was running both of our fitness facilities on campus--
[00:05:46.97] Oh, wow.
[00:05:47.76] --which was a great experience. We had a general population facility, which is just common with Division III, and then we also were fortunate enough to have the Harold Alfond Forum Strength and Conditioning Facility. So both of those facilities were underneath kind of my wheelhouse and within a year or so we really worked hard to pave the road for a full-time strength and conditioning position within athletics.
[00:06:12.89] That's cool.
[00:06:13.64] So Heath said, hey, let's make a benchmark project. And we basically benchmarked ourselves versus all of the other schools in the Commonwealth Coast Conference as well as the other Maine private institutions, such as Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, St. Joseph's, Husson, Maine Maritime and we really proved that we were deficient in the area. And our administrators were great about listening--
[00:06:35.09] That's cool.
[00:06:35.88] --to that.
[00:06:36.27] So you guys wrote this whole plan up and presented it to them like a presentation or--
[00:06:43.45] --kind of formal thing. That's awesome.
[00:06:44.90] We made a big visual and posters and Heath and I are famous for all kinds of things like that. But it really helped demonstrate the point that we were a bit behind in what we need to do. We had beautiful facilities, that was a strength.
[00:06:57.08] But we just didn't have somebody to run them as they deserve to be. So now there is a full-time fitness specialist in our campus center, which is great because that population deserves it.
[00:07:07.37] And now, I'm fully in charge of just strength and conditioning.
[00:07:10.19] That's awesome. So do you know if you guys doing that had any sort of impact on some other schools too? Like, after they saw you were they like, hey, how'd you guys do that?
[00:07:21.59] Yeah, absolutely.
[00:07:22.38] Did you have conference people reaching out to you?
[00:07:24.58] Yep, we've had a lot of visitors since we've done this. And I'm always happy for anybody out there by the way, if you're ever in Southern Maine and Biddeford, stop and say hi. We'll take you for a lobster at Kennebunkport.
[00:07:37.94] Wicked "lobsta."
[00:07:40.19] I don't even actually like seafood, I'm a weird Mainer. But yeah, we definitely love people to come visit and we've had a lot of people reach out, other area institutions. And not just division III. We've had on University of Maine Orono reach out, become very friendly with Coach Jon Lynch who's their head of sports performance.
[00:07:56.50] Yeah, former NSCA intern.
[00:07:58.25] Talk to Coach Lynch.
[00:07:59.21] He's great. He's really involved in NSCA Maine with me now.
[00:08:02.24] Yeah, awesome.
[00:08:03.32] And you know, we've just had a lot of-- we host our NSCA state clinics in the Northeast Regional there.
[00:08:09.71] So people have been able to come see and ask. And we share the benchmark project with everybody and anybody that asks. It was a successful model for us and it seemed to help a few other folks, at least get more resources.
[00:08:20.56] Yeah. Do they do that every year? Is that like, an annual thing?
[00:08:24.91] So I refresh it every single year.
[00:08:27.83] And we've just recently added Suffolk University to the Commonwealth Coast Conference, so I have to kind of adjust to who's doing what. and so I have to keep track. And luckily, the other strength coaches-- is again one of things I love about our field is that everybody's so willing, for the most part, to share what they're doing, how they're doing it, and what their resources are.
[00:08:48.68] One of the things that I've tried to do recently is get a symposium started with all the other collegiate programs in Maine--
[00:08:55.67] --and have them come. And we're working on putting this together, Jon and I, to try to get everybody in one room and say, what's the state of affairs in strength and conditioning in Maine at the collegiate level? Because we're mostly Division III's. There's only--
[00:09:08.22] Right. --U Maine Orono and then everyone else is Division III.
[00:09:10.82] Yeah. wow, that's really neat. Yeah, we just hosted the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, RMAC, which is division II but their annual strength and conditioning coach meeting, which they've only done a couple of times now too. But also, the RMAC conference is located in Colorado Springs, so I know the associate commissioner and commissioner pretty well.
[00:09:33.32] We had kind of just-- it was really just a relationship where they had come by and visited and we just said, hey, we should know each other. But then it wound up--
[00:09:42.08] Growing from there.
[00:09:42.60] --becoming hey, can we use your headquarters and classroom for our annual meeting? And we got Lauren Lando to come down from the Broncos and speak--
[00:09:49.88] Oh, Lauren's great.
[00:09:50.51] --to them It was really neat. So it's good because I think, obviously, it would be super cool if more conferences could do that in more schools. So that's really neat that you guys are doing that. Again, as a former state director myself, I have a special place in my heart for you guys. What's being a state director like for people who are listening and interested?
[00:10:14.77] Because I tell people all the time, it's a great stepping stone and probably even most of these people you see on the board of directors nowadays, a lot of times you're going to see they were state directors once upon a time when they first started.
[00:10:28.39] Yeah, it's a blast. Number one, I really enjoy it and I owe so much of what I now do within the NSC and the people that I know from becoming the state director. Heath was a state director for many years, Pat McCarthy, who I mentioned earlier, was a predecessor of mine right before I stepped into the role. This is my third year as the Maine State Director, so my first kind of term.
[00:10:52.79] I'll do the second term as well. I just re-upped that. So I come from kind of a lineage of people at UNE who have been a state director. And I remember Heath telling me when I was a junior or a senior in the program, you know, hey, someday you're going to be the state director. I was like, OK, OK.
[00:11:09.91] But that's the best part about it is that it's such a family and you have a built in group of people and network that you can reach out to at any time and not just about NSCA related things but what are you doing with your facility, how is this happening, what are you doing with this kind of student athlete? So it's just it's a really great group of people to work with, and I think that what we offer our membership is super important. I'm really-- kind of built my state directorship on helping students--
[00:11:36.19] --specifically. I mean, we're at University of New England so we have great exercise science, aquatic exercise program, and an athletic training program in there. And you know, so our department of exercise and sport performance is very involved in what we do.
[00:11:50.38] That's great.
[00:11:50.76] And we have St. Joseph's College who has a program, University of southern Maine locally, U Maine Orono. So we're really trying to help students get involved earlier in the NSCA and increase their membership and their understanding. I've met a few first time students already and it's just awesome to see their eyes light up with what a national conference is and all of those great things. And I also really try to use it to just further women in the field.
[00:12:23.08] I think that that's super important. There's not enough great women in strength and conditioning. We need more.
[00:12:28.33] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:12:29.20] This is my recruiting pitch.
[00:12:30.16] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you have any other thoughts about how you can help support that movement?
[00:12:37.87] Yeah. I think A, getting them when they're students is critical.
[00:12:42.65] You know, when their eyes are kind of just opening to what the field really is. I thought I started out as an athletic training student at UNE because I had torn an ACL in high school, love my AT, she was great. So I said, that's the route for me. I got to UNE, even though the program's incredible, I just kind of felt like something was missing and I've always wanted to coach. I knew that.
[00:13:01.31] And I fell in love with that aspect of it throughout my academic career. And I had incredible mentors, like Heath, who really opened my eyes to it. Before I left school, he said you're going to-- he's always challenged me and I love it. I think that that's important is to challenge young woman--
[00:13:17.94] --immediately and kind of make them realize that they're capable of so much more than they think. I think this is-- it's kind of a broad generalization but young men tend to think they can do everything. Young women tend to put themselves in a box and we need to help them understand that yeah, you're capable of all of that. So doing that early and often is important to me.
[00:13:39.28] Most of my interns have been female, recently. I've also had a lot of great young men but I really want them to understand that they don't have to become a physician's assistant or a physical therapist. Those professions are extremely important but a lot of our students tend to go that route and I want them to see this as a true profession.
[00:13:59.18] Right. No, that's cool. Yeah, I have a all female staff right now so--
[00:14:04.72] That's right.
[00:14:05.95] Ashley, my full-time assistant who's here with us is my full-time assistant, there all the time. And then we have two interns that are from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, so they already have their CSCS they're going to be in their second year master's programs.
[00:14:20.01] That's awesome.
[00:14:21.10] Whitney and Caitlin, they're watching the shop right now while we're all here, so we left him in charge. So we told them if anybody gets hurt, you drag them across the street into the USA Hockey parking lot and then we say, I don't know what happened. Joking, joking, people.
[00:14:38.23] That's not funny, but no I think the other important thing is a lot of women in this field feel that it's impossible to have a family.
[00:14:46.26] And not not just women either, that's a generalization I shouldn't make. I think a lot of men feel the same way because where the demands of what we do, especially at the collegiate level where at division III, I'm in charge of 17 teams. We just added women's outdoor track in 2021.
[00:15:00.03] So that's 18 teams and a large roster. We have football, I'm in charge of football.
[00:15:04.84] And I think that a lot of people see that as a detriment to a family. And so women tend to start in the field and then when it's time to start a family, phase out because they don't have the institutional support. Which I'm really blessed that my athletic directorship Heather Davis, Curt Smyth, and our president, James Herbert are just so supportive of families.
[00:15:27.64] That's cool.
[00:15:28.30] So I have one on the way, in December, and my four and a half year old, Jace. You know, that's not possible without a great support system.
[00:15:36.21] You know, my husband is the best life partner I could ever ask for, Chris. And then, again, having a great mentor is important too. So I lean on them a lot to get it done, but I think that's another hurdle that young women come up against.
[00:15:50.05] And helping them-- I think, for me, having them see me as a mother--
[00:15:54.88] --I try to do that. You know, like, with football specifically, I don't necessarily fit the stereotypical football strength coach that you'd think of, so a lot of recruits come in and their moms are with them and I'm kind of like, secret weapon. I'm like, pulling the moms aside like, I'll take care of them.
[00:16:10.78] Yeah, yeah.
[00:16:11.44] I mean, they really do become kind of like our kids.
[00:16:14.77] Not just when they're there for four years, but when they come back to see us. All of our athletes, I love that. I love keeping up with them. But I want my young women to understand that, hey, you can do this. It's possible. And for the young men to see that as well I think is hugely important. I mean, they most likely never had a woman as a coach.
[00:16:35.41] Right, right. When I started at Dartmouth with football, Kaitlin Sweeney and Bob Miller kind of split up. But Kaitlin was pretty much in charge.
[00:16:44.03] That's awesome.
[00:16:44.67] She's at West Virginia now.
[00:16:46.64] And she was kind of my-- I'd say she was really my boss because that was my first experience, and so she dominated. She had no problem running the show and--
[00:16:57.58] --they very much liked her to be loud and in charge. And she owned it and it was awesome.
[00:17:04.27] I was like, man, she's way-- I couldn't be loud. I'm not going to be able to be that, no way.
[00:17:09.91] Yeah, I try to let them-- I'm like, hey, guys, you're going to have off days. I want to know about how your life's going. I want to know how school's going. I'm going to mom you, literally. Like, what did you eat for lunch? How much did you eat? Did you sleep last night? Do you get your homework done? I think that's what any great strength coach does though, you know? I think being a mother has made me twice the coach.
[00:17:29.92] He's my most important coaching job first and foremost,
[00:17:31.99] Right, right, right.
[00:17:32.30] You know? So I think that's a fun aspect of it that--
[00:17:36.69] That's cool.
[00:17:37.12] --unfortunately, though, a lot of people see it as a hurdle.
[00:17:40.72] But we can clear it, we just need a support system.
[00:17:43.63] And not just at home, but also mentors, and--
[00:17:46.65] That's a great point.
[00:17:47.27] --the NSCA, different areas.
[00:17:50.61] Was it hard taking over football or was it easy? When you got there, were you like, oh, my gosh, now football is mine too? Or was a football coach as supportive of it too?
[00:18:05.49] That can be an interesting animal too, right?
[00:18:07.57] Again, very lucky. Our head coach, Mike Lipton, has been a blast to work with. And we've really challenged each other throughout the process. I like to joke, one day we hired him-- I had already been at the institution, but I wasn't in my role as it exists now fully. That happened around the same time that Mike was hired and he was hired a couple of years before we even played football to kind of get the program going behind the scenes.
[00:18:34.57] And one day I walked in and he was in my office and I was like, hey, what's up? He's like, we're sharing an office and I was like, great. But that was the best thing because we spent so much time planning ahead of time.
[00:18:46.63] And then one day I walked in, there was another coach in there named Kenny, he is our defensive coordinator. He's like, oh, this is Kenny. He now lives in our office. I'm like, this is great. But the moral of the story is we spent a lot of time together really making sure that I was assisting him and what he needed.
[00:19:03.22] And we communicate very effectively, that's very important, I think, for any coaching, strength coach head coaching relationship. Building that conduit is so necessary. So I think taking it on wasn't necessarily daunting, it was exciting.
[00:19:20.91] There's a lot of work behind football, specifically. Obviously, there's multiple programs that go into that and different positions and all those sorts of things. But I really relish in that and I think it was interesting, for me, again, being a female strength coach having worked with individual football players previously.
[00:19:39.92] My husband played at a really successful high school program, won a couple of state championships. We're a football family, so I understand the sport, I love it. Obviously I've, never played it, but I think getting the guys to understand that what's most important is understanding the culture of it and then understanding the biomechanics behind it and what I need to do to help you get there, know what to do to help you get there. And once they have that buy in, we're off and running.
[00:20:05.29] So when they're in the weight room, I mean, I absolutely love it. It's a blast. I can be a chameleon on any given day. That's another important skill, I think, is being able to jack yourself up, meet the team where they're at, or bring them down. What do they need for the day? Set the temperature and be the thermometer.
[00:20:21.82] That's a great point. How big of a team do you have? So how many athletes are you training on football at a time or is it groups? What's your guys' kind of set up with that?
[00:20:33.37] So this year we have around 120-- I don't want misspeak, it kind of changes daily with the number --coming into camp in about a month. That's our highest number ever. We've had about 70 to 80 on our roster. Previously the first year. We played a pre-varsity season, we played-- last year was our first full varsity season in the CCC.
[00:20:52.93] This will be our second.
[00:20:53.88] So I think the idea is to have around 100 guys on the roster. So we can train them in our facility, we're lucky enough. We have 12 racks, 12 platforms, a nice 30 yard swatch of turf. So we can get everybody in there if we have to.
[00:21:11.44] Organized chaos, but very, very organized.
[00:21:13.83] Right, right.
[00:21:15.55] And we usually train them in season in four groups around their class schedules.
[00:21:19.60] OK, cool.
[00:21:20.23] Because everybody else, obviously, needs to get in too and, at UNE, we don't have any common time off. So there's no time from 4:00 to 6:00, for example, where everybody has practice and trains. So from 2:00 to 8:00 PM. I just ran some data actually, we put about 250 plus student athletes through the weight room on any given night.
[00:21:39.28] We train about 1,200 athletes a week. Obviously, that's multiple of the same person multiple times, but contact hour-wise, it's tremendous.
[00:21:46.92] Wow, yeah. What's the earliest group you have in the morning?
[00:21:51.18] So we do go as early as 6:00 AM.
[00:21:54.22] It's been a challenge for me, as a mother, to get there early enough. So thankfully, I do have some interns that we encourage to get certified, so that they can meet NCAA standards. That's another thing that we're very conscious of is meeting NCAA compliance standards and at the gold standard, requiring CSCS.
[00:22:11.47] But at least the students can take their CPT and get that ball started.
[00:22:14.89] Yeah, cool.
[00:22:16.03] And then we also have a quarterback coach who has a CSCS. So that's tremendously helpful. And then a few of our assistant coaches have gone on to get USAW at least. So we have some help in some different ways, trying to be creative, again, at the Division III level. I also have a per diem assistant.
[00:22:35.25] OK, yeah because I was going to say, I know you just posted that recently in the college sig about the new position, right?
[00:22:43.70] So did you kind of come up with some creative funding for that one too?
[00:22:47.30] Yeah so we've actually had that in play for the last two years. Just the individuals have moved on to do other things, which really is what it's meant for. It's--
[00:22:55.01] Right, right right.
[00:22:55.69] --meant to help somebody launch--
[00:22:56.82] Stepping stone, yeah,
[00:22:57.58] Exactly. So I created the similar benchmark type thing and went to my administration and said, hey, this is a need. We don't meet the NCAA standards and guidelines that were just published in 2017, again. You know, we're far below the ratio for number of coaches to athletes, and they listened.
[00:23:18.43] Again, we're a very health forward university with our majors and they saw that as important for the health and safety of the student athlete, so they added that position. So that position is with me anywhere from 15 to 20 hours a week, right now, which I'm thankful for the help for sure. We could use 40 hours absolutely but we'll take it. So I can't say his name just yet because he's in the process of leaving his previous employer but we're very excited about the hire that we made.
[00:23:45.97] And he's a Springfield Mafia--
[00:23:48.73] --guy, so we're excited with that.
[00:23:50.15] Right down the road, there you go. No, that's cool. Yeah, we've had, again, my assistant position was part time for the last eight months or so, I forget how long. It's pretty close, nine months. And then it's similar too, I was like, look, I travel a lot. This gym needs better supervision if I'm gone. We can't just leave our interns in charge. I mean, we can some of the times but not--
[00:24:18.67] Not all the time.
[00:24:19.63] --with the amount that I travel and to do this other stuff. And, again, it's easier when you have the NSCA standards and guidelines and you work at NSCA headquarters to be like, we really should be adhering a little better to this. And so they listened and allowed me to hire actually full-time at the end of May. So we're back to a full-time assistant that really can help supervise the gym because the biggest part, because I get pulled into so many other areas.
[00:24:49.82] Yeah, absolutely.
[00:24:51.16] How have you guys tapped into-- I mean, again, you have interns so do you have-- you've got a great exercise science program, you've got a great feeder, so how many of those students are you guys able to tap into every semester or year or how does that work?
[00:25:05.45] Yeah, we have about 15 a year.
[00:25:08.42] And we have anywhere from well, 5 to 7, depends on the semester and the year and where they're at. So some of them elect to stay with us an entire year, which is great. They have that option. They have to do a three credit and a six credit internship in their senior year.
[00:25:26.84] So they have to-- or sorry two three credit internships, total of six. So they have to figure out exactly how they're going to do that. But the ones that stay with us for a full year, generally, obviously, very interested in strength and conditioning. And one of those, Shannon Smith, just earned her masters from Merrimack and Coach Kamal and those guys down there. So she's actually in an assistant-ship with the NCAA--
[00:25:49.36] Oh, awesome.
[00:25:50.67] --at the University of Denver.
[00:25:52.59] So that's pretty cool. Really proud of her, for example. So we're really focused on taking the interns and teaching them how to network, teaching them the skills that they need to move forward. I mean the semester moves so fast, it's hard to get in all of the pieces that you want with programming and this and that.
[00:26:09.03] And I try to really focus mostly on the art of coaching and getting them to understand how to be a coach. What the field feels like, what's your daily kind of requirements and those sorts of things. And we certainly focus on programming and they're responsible for doing warm ups and eventually earn the right to coach a full session or multiple sessions or kind of be in a key position with a team and they come to know that. I make them call themselves coach.
[00:26:35.27] And my athletes know and, obviously, many of them are student athletes themselves. So they could be friends with all the athletes but when you're in the weight room, you are a coach. And they are to refer to you as such--
[00:26:46.93] That's cool.
[00:26:47.75] --to kind of get that mentality rolling.
[00:26:50.30] And I think that's a piece that we do a great job with our curriculum, teaching the science and the practical aspects as well, but I try to give them an intensive--
[00:26:58.70] --on that and I could not do what I do without my interns. I refer to them as the Nor'Easter Strength and Conditioning Family. They mentor my current interns, so I assign them as the years go and we've got more and more out. I mean, I say reach out to XYZ and they thankfully mentor all of the younger ones and help them kind of understand where they are going.
[00:27:23.54] They're not all focused on strength and conditioning, but my hope is that they leave me better, which is my overarching philosophy. They leave me individually better, they leave the internship better themselves, they make a mark on it somehow. But that they understand the key role of strength and conditioning in the world of sports performance team.
[00:27:45.56] So if they're going to go on to physical therapy great. I want you to understand how a great strength coach can be your best friend, you know? If they're going to go into athletic training, which we have had a couple do later on. Again, how can a strength coach help you out? What are the benefits of understanding that?
[00:28:02.72] That's awesome. Are those all UNE students or do you have outside interns as well if someone wanted to come--
[00:28:11.22] --from a different school. We haven't done that just yet, but I think it might be in the works.
[00:28:15.66] Again, because we have so many from UNE. But we definitely have people, people have asked to volunteer and/or come observe things and there's paperwork on that end and those sorts of things. But we're actually only in year five, or year three of our strength and conditioning program as it is.
[00:28:32.21] And it's amazing. I mean, I look back on it five years ago when I was in the other kind of role and trying to dream up what we're doing now and I'm just floored by what we've been able to do. And, again, I couldn't have done any of it without the support system of my administration, the head coaches the student athletes, mentors like, Heath Pierce, and the interns.
[00:28:55.06] That's huge.
[00:28:55.64] So it's been a family affair.
[00:28:56.90] Yeah, that's so great. What are some of the big challenges that you're still facing at that level or kind of in your setting?
[00:29:04.19] Yeah, I think, again, having staffing is a big key and that's only because I want so badly to adhere to the NSCA standards and guidelines to ensure that our student athletes have everything they need. I definitely feel I'd be remiss in saying that I feel like I have everything under control every day.
[00:29:22.02] That's a complete fallacy. None of us feel that way even if we have the staff in place. But I feel like it would be very beneficial for us to eventually, In the next few years, take that step of adding a full-time assistant strength coach or at least somebody in a more permanent fashion that can build those lasting relationships with the athletes, because really that's what my program's built on us is them. It's about them.
[00:29:42.77] We're athlete centric at the end of the day, so to have a revolving position is helpful, but it would be great to have that next step. So that's kind of the major challenge, I think, that we're facing. Our space is beautiful, it's great, but I don't see that changing any time soon and I wouldn't change it. I love it.
[00:30:02.66] But we're already tight--
[00:30:03.76] Right, right, right.
[00:30:04.85] --on space.
[00:30:05.82] Like maybe we should have got 15 racks, maybe.
[00:30:08.77] But we luckily, I mean, we maximized everything we could with the space that we worked with to perform better.
[00:30:14.50] And they were incredible to help us out with everything that we did. But scheduling is a challenge at the Division III level because how do you get everybody in in a timely fashion? Right now, everybody's in on the half hour.
[00:30:26.08] So we start a team. I'll take that team. The next half hour, my assistant grabs that team and then, I'm finishing, grabbing the next one. And so on with the interns as well, so at any given point, we could have up to three teams in the weight room. I could have three smaller teams like, women's basketball, volleyball for example, golf or cross country, we can kind of ebb and flow together. So kind of keeping that ball rolling in an efficient manner and supervision and all that stuff.
[00:30:55.39] Yeah, yeah.
[00:30:55.93] I mean, my brain's always thinking about that.
[00:30:58.27] And are you technically in charge of all of those 17 teams and then this new person will have a few?
[00:31:07.27] So you program for all those guys?
[00:31:08.92] So I have in the past pretty much programmed specifically for all 17 teams. My last assistant definitely helped take a few of those teams as we got into it, but, initially, I do until they kind of get their feet wet with understanding the athletes and the head coaches and their needs and wants. But, I think, with my next assistant, that's going to be kind of the goal.
[00:31:26.95] With athletic training, for example, we have four full timers and they're all incredible. I failed to mention them earlier. I couldn't do what I do without my great athletic training staff, honestly. They're such great partners in everything, but they have point teams, you know?
[00:31:41.65] I don't know that that's ever-- until we get a full-time person, that is going to happen. So I try to keep my hands on each team just so they feel like they have kind of that in touch with things. And then, I try to back off as my assistant takes over, so I'm still just heavily involved in all of that.
[00:32:01.69] And are you expected to go to practices and games? Or is it more you can show up when you want to show up or when you feel you need to or are they like, hey, we need you to warm up the soccer team before they practice, which is kind of a joke, just saying.
[00:32:19.12] It would be extremely difficult for that to happen. As much as sometimes I might like to be more involved on the sideline, just because when they're in practice and games, I've got three teams in front of me in the weight room, right? So I don't get to get out to the sideline or practice as much as I might like to.
[00:32:38.44] But every once in a while, I certainly have an open invite with a few of our teams to show up whenever. And sometimes I'll just sit in the bleachers and watch ice hockey practice and kind of pick out movement patterns that I see that we should maybe work on this a little bit or I watch a lot of film at home. If they're playing on the road, I'll pull it up and I'll keep an eye on, again, those things. And I'm supporting them but I'm also secretly like, all right, what do I need to work on in the weight room?
[00:33:06.55] But I think for strength coaches, especially at this level with Division III, we're in the weight room, they're not getting scholarships to compete.
[00:33:13.65] It's against NCAA regulations. There's very few rewards for them, other than just the love of the sport.
[00:33:20.90] And I think it's really rewarding for them to see their hard work from the weight room parlay into performance.
[00:33:27.40] And I think it matters to them to see their strength staff at the games. So even if I'm not on their sideline, I make a point of getting-- if I'm on the way out for the night and there's a game, I'm going to pop over for 10 or 15 minutes.
[00:33:39.67] Cool, yeah, yeah.
[00:33:40.54] We bring my little one to as many games as possible. And my husband, he was a Nor'easter too, graduated from UNE. So we try to get the family involved. Our family outings are often on a Saturday to--
[00:33:52.69] A game.
[00:33:54.12] That's awesome.
[00:33:55.12] But I think that that's key. I think they need to see their strength staff at games. In, obviously, in Division I, they're traveling with them, they're warming them up, they're cooling them down. They're doing all those great things, so they're there with them a little more often. And where I have all 17, I try to spread the love--
[00:34:09.07] --so that they feel it. If I'm invited on a trip and I can go, I will. So usually NCAA tournament type games, that kind of stuff. I went with women's lacrosse a couple of years ago on spring break.
[00:34:23.08] Get some beach workouts and pool workouts. So I'll go when I can.
[00:34:26.01] Where's the training trip this year? Yep, I can make it.
[00:34:29.08] Florida, great. Sounds good in February or March in Maine, you know?
[00:34:32.40] Right, right.
[00:34:33.46] So it's fun that way. But I try to be as involved. If they invite me to a team meeting great. If they invite me to a team dinner or the end of the year celebration, I'm there if I can be. And I just, I think that's important for building those relationships.
[00:34:47.59] Yeah, that's cool. So any aspirations to move to a different division or be a professional strength coach? I mean it sounds like you've got a pretty great situation. Obviously, you're very passionate and happy.
[00:35:04.69] Or is it could you, if you wanted to, stay at UNE for 20 years and retire from at school?
[00:35:11.41] Yeah, I definitely am extremely happy where I'm at.
[00:35:15.61] I think that there's something special about the Division III level and I wouldn't even so much call it a niche as just a passion. I think at the D-I level again, incredible things that they can do with their athletes, usually not always, have more resources and abilities to be with them and those sorts of things. But--
[00:35:34.15] Jon Lynch might argue with you about resources.
[00:35:36.66] I know, I know. We joke about that. But I couldn't see myself anywhere else.
[00:35:43.63] You know, the joke is that I drank the blue Kool-Aid and I bleed blue, you know, Nor'easter blue. And some people might see that as it gets hokey, whatever else. I don't. It's who I am. It's a part of who I am. I think being a Nor'easter, it's special to me, having been a student athlete and a product of their program,
[00:36:03.43] I could definitely see myself there forever. And for better or worse. If a better opportunity arose, I don't know that I-- I just, I love it so much. And I think that there's so many great things happening--
[00:36:17.08] --at the University and not just athletically, academically. I mean, we have our biggest incoming freshman class in the applied exercise science program ever.
[00:36:26.05] I believe Heath said it was 63 the other day, which is amazing. So I'm right now finishing my master's in applied nutrition through UNE.
[00:36:34.36] Yeah, yeah, nice.
[00:36:35.59] And I'm really excited to put that to work.
[00:36:39.46] I have plans in the future of how I want to do that. Many Division IIIs don't have any access to sports nutrition or counseling.
[00:36:47.98] And we do a pretty good job of getting them to understand the importance of it, but we need to do more for them. And so I can kind of see my role in the future, potentially, if there's room for that growing into trying to supervise something like that as well.
[00:37:04.54] And that's why I'm getting my master's specifically in it. I have an interest in it and I see that it's a need for our athletes and trying to fill that gap.
[00:37:12.48] And everyone's like, how are you going to do all of these things? How are you going to find the time, be a mother, do this, whatever? I think, just like when you're worried about having another kid, is your love for your child going to multiply or is it going to be difficult to split that? I think that we have great capacity to multiply if we love something enough. So that's kind of where I'm at with UNE and what I do. I also have the opportunity to teach a little bit in the aquatic exercise science program.
[00:37:39.48] Which is, I think, kind of a neat thing with Division III that we get to do a little bit more.
[00:37:43.66] Just because, again, resources are fewer.
[00:37:46.24] So I get to be the lab instructor for our fitness evaluation and prescription course, which is kind of getting them ready to take the CPT.
[00:37:56.20] And then I also am the lab instructor for our concepts of strength and conditioning course, so I work with Heath to get them ready with their CSCS, I teach the CSCS review portion alongside Heath, I'll lecture whenever I can. I love being in the classroom. If anything, I can see my role kind of growing to include being more involved in the classroom, potentially. Because, again, I think it's just so critical.
[00:38:22.45] That's awesome. Speaking of Heath Pierce.
[00:38:24.04] Yeah, here he is taking pictures of me.
[00:38:24.85] He's standing over here taking picture.
[00:38:25.89] He's not proud at all. But I think it's so important, again, to get the students involved early on and to share that experience with them. And not just from the books, but hey, this is what we've done and we try not to share our opinion too often.
[00:38:43.36] We try to share these are standards, these are guideline, this is the science. But if they ask, this is how we've implemented it.
[00:38:51.37] Yeah, this is how we do it in real practice too.
[00:38:54.66] No, that's cool. That sounds like such a great place and I think if nothing else, people hopefully listening that are wondering, will be able to reach out to you and kind of pick your brain because it's obviously not impossible, right?
[00:39:10.69] People complain about resources all the time and you're clearly not a school with tremendous resources. You've gotten grants, you've been creative, you've gone outside the box of thinking things. So yeah, I think that's a big one to not get stuck in the minutia of oh, woe is me. And I think Mike Caro, who's in charge of our sig now, again, another Division III strength coach is very good about saying well, what are we doing about it?
[00:39:40.45] Right, let's explain.
[00:39:41.86] We complain about it but--
[00:39:42.58] What are you going to do? Yeah, Heath always taught the kids something and he came up with that I've taken forward, be part of the solution not part of the problem. And so what can you do to make your situation better? How can you get creative about things? Our favorite tool in the whole weight room is a $2 Home Depot dowel. Favorite tool. And I use it, I carry it around like Gandalf, like Teddy Roosevelt. "Speak softly, carry a big stick."
[00:40:10.04] Yeah, yeah.
[00:40:11.10] So my kids know that too. They kind of laugh. If I'm in a mood, I got the stick and I'm after it. But we use it for everything from teaching form and technique to-- but that's such a simple thing. I'm blessed that we have 12 inlay platforms and 12 racks and all the specialty bars I could ask for and the sleds and all the bells and whistles.
[00:40:29.94] But I still love that dowel, you know? And I love what we do with our own bodyweight as well. And I love mixing in tempos and different isometric positions and different joint angles. There's so many ways to be creative with your programming that don't have to involve a barbell and a rack.
[00:40:48.09] Yeah, yeah.
[00:40:49.20] So especially at the D-III level, you have to be that way. So I find myself sometimes I'm like, man, I haven't used the Swiss bars in a while, do I need to? Should I? I mean, I have them just in case I need them for an athlete with an affected shoulder, for example, or just a changing a grip. But I try really hard to stick to the science that dictates things with research, but also how can I be creative? And I think, Division III forces us to flex our creative brain and creative muscle.
[00:41:17.13] That's a great point.
[00:41:18.51] So I love that aspect of it.
[00:41:20.48] That's cool. What do we got coming up for NSCA Maine and/or Northeast region, because, again, with Heath being tied in, I know you got the inside details.
[00:41:31.46] Yeah, usually if there's anything going on in the Northeast, I'm pretty abreast of it. We're going to be hosting the Northeast Regional, it's not set in stone yet, but around the 1st of December, so keep an eye out for that.
[00:41:44.32] And, again, we're going to try to tie-in the Foundations of Coaching Clinic to that.
[00:41:48.84] Of course, to that. And then, we traditionally host the Maine State Clinic in the spring. I'm kind of looking at different options right now just to best fit our constituency and our membership and is that the best time? Is it not?
[00:42:02.70] So this Spring, I volunteered with a bunch of the other state clinics. Went out to Vermont with Justin Smith, went down to UConn with Joel DeMarco, and then I went to the combined NEACSN and NSCA conference to assist with that a little bit. So I spent a lot of time with that this year, but I'm trying to nail down exactly the best time. So if you're out there, NSCA Maine and you kind of have some ideas, get at me.
[00:42:29.91] Yeah, totally.
[00:42:30.87] So Maine is-- we don't have enough strength and conditioning knowledge or know how at the high school level. Especially when we're heavily Division III, we get a lot of Maine athletes, and that's something that Jon Lynch and I are both really passionate about. So we're kind of spit balling ideas and kind of working together on how we can maybe approach high school coaches, specifically.
[00:42:55.12] And we would love to have strength coaches, but how can we get them to understand the importance of it? And if they have been in the weight room with their athletes, how can we improve what they're doing with them, so that when they get to us, selfishly, we have less work to do to help them out? And improve the injury rates and the high school ACL, both ACL's here actually.
[00:43:15.45] So, again, I don't want to see kids hurt and I think that's why I switched to strength and conditioning is I want to be on the pre-emptive end. I want to be trying to keep kids healthy and fight through things versus getting them back. But if I have to get them back, I've been there, done it. Like, I got your back, kid. And I think my athletes understand that a lot too.
[00:43:34.74] Oh, that's so great. This has been fantastic. How about if people are still interested, more interested hearing about what you do, trying to get ideas, and steal all the stuff that you've already done to help them out? What's the best way to reach out to you?
[00:43:50.13] My email is L-l-i-b-b-y-2, so LLibby2-- still my student email.
[00:43:56.29] It's kind of funny.
[00:43:56.85] Perfect, yeah.
[00:43:57.80] --@UNE.edu. So please email me, honestly. I have Instagram as well, it's noreaster_strength, so people can follow me on that. I was talking to Sue Graves from Florida Atlantic University last night, she's a professor, there, and she was like I wake up every morning and check. I'm like, no way, that's so funny. I love social media for that reason, you never know when you're going to connect with.
[00:44:21.06] So I just started Twitter, which is kind of hilarious that I just started Twitter. But my athletes, they're on Instagram a lot, so that's where they mostly interact with me. But I'd love-- people have reached out to me via Instagram, via email.
[00:44:34.29] Always more than happy to have people come visit us and see what we do and not just to say, look at this beautiful Cadillac of a facility that we have. I want to help them, and I think that's critical for us in this field is to help the next one in line get better than you. If you're insecure about somebody taking over your role, that's not the way to be. Get better than me. Let's advance this field one stair step at a time by standing on my shoulders.
[00:45:02.48] So, again, happy to help anybody that wants to come up and visit. My assistant, that I just hired, actually had come to visit me for that reason. Kind of interested in helping another school in Maine with strength and conditioning after his graduation, and I love that about him.
[00:45:19.08] I think we can help each other, especially in Maine. If you're in Maine or New Hampshire, Mass, New England, come visit. If you're not and you're just visiting, again, stop in. But within the state, it's just so important for what we're doing and we don't have a lot going on at the high school level. College level is kind of waking up and coming around to it. So we got to help each other. Male, female, it does not matter. Coach is coach. I just gave a presentation on that at the Great Lakes Regional.
[00:45:49.29] And it was awesome to see the response from that. I was really just humbled by it.
[00:45:55.44] So just at the end of the day, again, coach is coach.
[00:45:58.54] That's awesome. Yeah, no, I think that's a huge kind of underlying tenet or foundational block of the NSCA in general, right?
[00:46:08.34] It's helping each other out. It's helping somebody become state director eventually or take over another position or learn more about what they need to learn more. And it's such an open-- like you're saying, open sharing, help people get better, improve themselves and yeah, be better than me.
[00:46:26.67] Yeah, I try to go visit like anytime I get a chance.
[00:46:29.88] That's so cool.
[00:46:30.54] And I started with a trip to the Merrimack, to go visit Mike Kamal, and Scott Lynch, or Scott Leech, excuse me, and it was a blast. And I often try to bring my interns as well, so it's not often just me going alone, it's hey, come with me. And if we don't take their hand and literally show them what this is about, they might find it.
[00:46:52.56] They might.
[00:46:53.04] Or you can tell them about it right you want. It's not the same.
[00:46:55.89] Right. We were in the state directorship meeting this morning and one of the things that was really awesome is that we're very quickly approaching 30,000 members.
[00:47:03.41] And we're like 28,000 or so, so we we're saying what can we do to kind of get over that number? And I think that getting the students-- like, how many of them-- if you have an exercise science program, how do they not know about the NSCA? And, hopefully, they're in ERP program and those sorts of things. But there's so much growth yet to do, and we just have to help each other do it.
[00:47:24.03] I tell students that all time. Dude, sign up while it's still cheap.
[00:47:28.64] Take advantage.
[00:47:29.00] Soon as you're not in college anymore you're going to pay full price. Get on it while you can.
[00:47:33.61] Exactly. And that's exactly what I did. My first NSCA event was in 2009, I think I was a college sophomore.
[00:47:40.32] Nice, that's awesome.
[00:47:41.61] And, again, it was because Heath said, do this.
[00:47:43.32] Cool. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:47:45.63] So, again, being a female with a male mentor I think is such a great thing. I am a female mentor to men as well and it's a neat-- we're people. Everybody's human beings, they need each other. So I don't think we need to be in silos or camps.
[00:48:04.17] We really need to reach out across the-- not just within strength and conditioning but physical therapy, athletic training, docs, you know? We need to have all of those pieces, you know? And the better our sports performance-- administrators, I don't want to forget them either because, again, they're critical to what we do.
[00:48:22.92] And the more that we create bridges instead of tearing them down and saying, this is how I do things. Because I mean, it's not-- it's great, great, how do you do it? I want to learn from you. What can I take? What kind of gem can I take and pull away and bring back to my house and put in action? And what can you learn from me? It's reciprocal,
[00:48:42.86] Yeah, no, I think that's such a great point about mentors too. You need a great mentor who's a great coach and a great person, right? When I first started, Liane Blyn who's at ESU now, was doing a lot of strong man and private sector stuff in Massachusetts, so I used to drive down to where she worked in Mass three hours from where I lived to learn from her.
[00:49:05.36] And, again, Kaitlin, when she was in charge of football at Dartmouth, I really looked up to those guys to kind of show me what it was to be a "real," air quotes, college strength coach. But that was what I sought those people out to make myself better and it didn't matter who they were. It was like, all right, this is a strength coach that I know that I can learn from that's a positive influence.
[00:49:31.44] Right, I think a lot of times young professionals are, of course, they're itching to put their education to use. They're hungry to prove themselves. We have that kind of mantra I guess, for better or worse in strength and conditioning of like, put your time in, work kamikaze hours, all those sorts of things. The first one in, last one out, and yeah, I think that that's important. There's pieces of that are important, but we also have to--
[00:49:54.65] You can do that for a period of time.
[00:49:55.89] Right, but you also to advocate for yourself and your family and your finances. I think Mike Caro does a great job of kind of keeping us straight on the college sig about those sorts of things.
[00:50:07.46] There's a lot of resources out there for us in terms of that but it's, to the young professionals, it's not always going to be perfect. You might have to do something for free for a long time, like I did, like we all kind of did. But at the same time, I also think we should be compensated fairly for what we do.
[00:50:23.24] But they're going to have to put your time in in some capacity and having a mentor to help you get there is great. And a lot of my interns still reach out and they're like hey, Coach, it's been a couple of years, I don't know exactly what I want to do. Do you have any ideas? And we'll try to share everything and anything we can with them, but it's up to them to take that mantle and run with it and you know do those things.
[00:50:45.36] No, it's a great experience. I appreciate you being on. Like I said, we'll put all your contact info in the show notes. Hopefully, people will check you out and go visit and go to the NSCA Maine State clinic. I got to make it there one of these days still, so you know I'm keeping it on my radar. But thanks for, again, being on the show, again. Appreciate it.
[00:51:03.56] Hey, I really appreciate the opportunity, thank you.
[00:51:06.26] And a big thanks to our sponsor, Sorinex Exercise Equipment, we appreciate their support and to all of you listening, we appreciate your support. Again, if you like the podcast, make sure that you subscribe wherever you download your podcasts from, write us a review, and keep listening in. Look forward to talking with you all soon, thanks.
[00:51:26.21] And if you're new to this podcast and want to learn more about NSCA strength and conditioning certifications, you can get all the details and NSCA.com/certification.
[00:51:36.23] This was the NSCA's coaching podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the professional. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.
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