Kerry Harbor - NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Season 7 Episode 5

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Kerry Harbor, CSCS
Coaching Podcast June 2023


In this episode, we hear from Kerry Harbor, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Winston-Salem State University, on his experience at the 2023 NSCA Coaches Conference. Coach Harbor shares with NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, unique aspects of serving student-athletes at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II level. The discussion includes Coach Harbor’s early aspiration to become a physical therapist, to how a college football injury introduced him to the coaching profession. From teaching physical education classes to coaching in both high school and college, Coach Harbor reflects on recent growth and areas of opportunity in the strength and conditioning profession.

As mentioned during the episode, you can learn more about the results from the 2022 NSCA Strength and Conditioning Salary Survey.

Connect with Kerry on Instagram: @harborkerry or Twitter @CoachHarbor | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“The best way I can put it is, I tell people it's like Frosty the Snowman. He was just a regular snowman until he put the hat on. So once I put the whistle on, I knew this was what I should be doing.” 4:54

“I think there's tremendous value in it being able to help someone not be apprehensive when they walk into a gym or not be apprehensive about going outside and get some physical activity.” 13:50

“Even my athletes here, we always talk about, you're only as strong as the weight you can lift correctly.” 22:10

“Sometimes some mental health issues come because some people don't really know how to deal with failure. So for me, even if you aren't really comfortable speaking or delivering a presentation, I think you should do it because of the value that your story has to other people.” 27:50

“I think we should jump at that opportunity at every chance we get to speak, even if you don't feel like you're a polished public speaker, or maybe you're not sure exactly how to do the presentation or exactly what to cover. I would say jump on out there and do it. Jump out there and do it.” 29:55


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:00:04.35] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, season seven, episode five.

[00:00:10.92] Sometimes, some mental health issues come because some people don't really know how to deal with them. So for me, even if you aren't really comfortable speaking or delivering a presentation, I think you should do it because of the value that your story has to other people.

[00:00:31.13] 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.

[00:00:41.95] This is the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today we are joined by strength and conditioning coach, Kerry Harbor. Ran into Coach Harbor at the 2023 NSCA coaches conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is the head strength and conditioning coach at Winston-Salem State University. And Kerry, thanks for being with us.

[00:01:06.56] Thank you. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:08.69] Yeah, man. I enjoyed catching up with you at the conference. And it was just fun. It's always fun meeting people and walking around and just seeing, getting the pulse of the event. How did you like the conference?

[00:01:25.40] So it was my first time going in a few years. Well, more than a few years. Because once I kind of stepped down to the high school level, just the timing of the clinic didn't really fit with a high school teaching schedule. So I had not been in a few years.

[00:01:39.93] So just to see the way that it has grown and how many more vendors you have and just the different resources that you have for all the coaches that attend, I mean, I thought it was very well organized. A lot of resources. Great topics by the speakers. And then it was a chance for me to see people that I haven't seen in person in-- I'm going to date myself a little bit-- maybe 10, 15, in some cases, 20 years. So it was a great experience for me.

[00:02:13.02] That's awesome. Yeah, I always enjoy the networking at our conferences. And it's an opportunity to sort of get the band back together again and just catch up. I think we're all working pretty hard during the year, head down kind of mentality in this profession. And then we can let loose a little bit, and also get our education, continuing education, at a conference like that.

[00:02:38.86] So always fun to do that. And I'm glad I got to meet you there.

[00:02:43.83] Yes, sir.

[00:02:44.73] Winston-Salem State, you're the head strength and conditioning coach. We typically kick off our podcast just with telling us about your professional path, kind of what led you down the road of strength and conditioning. And so why don't we hear your story?

[00:03:01.57] So I started out in high school. I figured out that I wanted to be a high school teacher and football coach. That was my original goal. Probably the people that had the biggest impact on me were my high school coaches. And I thought that was the job for me.

[00:03:19.08] Well, along my journey I figured it out that some people thought that maybe I should look at some other options. And my mom, she actually said, hey, have you ever thought about being a physical therapist? Well, me being who I was, did not really understand the GPA requirements and all the things that you would need to do to be a physical therapist.

[00:03:42.75] So once I started in college, I majored in physical education. But I actually went the science-based or nonteaching track. And so because I did that, I also have a minor in biology. And so I graduated without getting the teaching certification portion of the degree.

[00:04:01.09] And so I actually started coaching at the school. I started out as an assistant football coach. Just spoke to my college head coach this morning. Larry Little, he's in the NFL Hall of Fame. And I talked to him. He's getting a street named after him. And I was fortunate enough to be his offensive line coach. And that kind of came about because he let me wear his number in college. So big honor for me, one of the highlights of my athletic career. But that actually started my path into coaching.

[00:04:33.12] So it was my junior year in college. I got injured. I was at a Division 2 school, so I was on full scholarship. So since I was injured, he said, you're going to actually help us coach this spring. And once I started coaching and I got back into it, I figured out that was what I should be doing.

[00:04:54.86] The best way I can put it is, I tell people it's like Frosty the Snowman. He was just a regular snowman until he put the hat on. So once I put the whistle on, I knew this was what I should be doing. And I had to figure out a way to get a paycheck from it. And so I actually started out as an assistant football coach.

[00:05:12.41] And a lot of times when you're at the D2 level, you wear a lot of hats. So in addition to my assistant football coach duties, I was also the strength and conditioning liaison slash speed plyometric coach, how ever you want to put it. So that just fell into my job duties.

[00:05:31.64] And once there was a coaching change there, was actually a coaching change with Coach Little, I had to figure out what was going to be the next step in my journey. And I always tell people, before I ever figured out I was a good athlete and I could play football really well, I was a great student. And great student all through high school. I did well in college. Not well enough to be a physical therapist, but I did well.

[00:05:57.79] And so actually my academic advisor at North Carolina Central said, I know you're looking for a new job. I know some strength coaches at UNC Chapel Hill. What do you think about going there? And so that is what really started me on my path to be a strength and conditioning coach. Because at that time, UNC Chapel Hill was probably one of the top, if not the top, one of the top five strength and conditioning programs in the country.

[00:06:24.56] And I just-- all because I did well in school and my academic advisors saw what kind of job I did as a coach, that's kind of how I got my first start into being a full fledged strength and conditioning coach.

[00:06:39.37] I love that. I love that you quoted the Frosty the Snowman reference in there. That's a first on the NSCA Coaching Podcast. That's a great episode quote right there, man. I appreciate that. And one thing that jumps out for me is you're talking a lot about Division 2 athletics. And maybe that's an area within college strength and conditioning that we don't talk about enough.

[00:07:06.82] I know the recent NSCA coaching salary survey came out, and actually surprised me a little bit that Division 2 coaching salaries actually lagged behind Division 3. And I think we might expect that at the Division 1 to Division 2 level comparison, but maybe not the Division 2 to Division 3, and then NAIA and other divisions were right there, as well.

[00:07:32.72] I want to ask you about, what are the unique challenges in the setting of Division 2 athletics as it relates to strength and conditioning from your experience?

[00:07:44.82] I think as you take as you take a look around the country, you can see kind of the trend with strength coaches. When I started-- and again, I'm going to date myself. When I started 25 years ago, basically only Division 1 schools are the only people that really had full time strength and conditioning coaches.

[00:08:05.61] And like I said, I was fortunate enough to go to UNC Chapel Hill. And they were kind of the gold standard. They were up on the perch of what everybody wanted to be. And they had kind of figured out that staffing piece, how to have enough strength coaches to service all of their sports because they had a really good overall athletic program.

[00:08:26.64] Obviously, everyone knows about the men's basketball program. And at that time football was really good. But what they were able to do is they were able to figure out how to staff-- well, how to find a staff-- for both of the weight rooms and service all of the sports. So over time, what you would see is the trickle down theory where AA schools have the strength and conditioning coaches. Then Division 2 had strength conditioning coaches.

[00:08:52.56] On down the Division 3, NAIA, and now it's trickling down to the high school level. So I think somewhere in that transition the Division 2 schools-- because a lot of times we deal with limited resources-- what ends up happening is strength and conditioning is one of the areas that sometimes might be, I don't want to say forgotten about, but it may not be as funded as well in certain areas.

[00:09:17.52] Just because most strength coaches, we kind of talked about in the beginning, we just kind of work with our head down. We kind of do whatever we need to do. We wear a bunch of different hats. Typically we're hard nosed, blue collar guys and ladies that just, we just love to work with athletes. We love everything about strength and conditioning.

[00:09:39.03] And a lot of times we are able to make do with less, because that's our attitude and that's our mentality. Because that's what we preach to our athletes. Find a way. Figure it out. Be motivated.

[00:09:51.70] And so I think what's happening is, a lot of times because we're able to do that, and we don't complain. Like they say, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. So we don't squeak and so we don't get oil. And so what ends up happening is a lot of times our positions are not fully staffed, or maybe a little bit underfunded. So I think that would be my take on it.

[00:10:14.28] As far as Division 3 and NAIA, why their salaries would be a little bit more, I would think they would be leaning more towards their athletes need maybe a little bit more development. So they understand the purpose of that strength and conditioning coach and how they can take an athlete from where they are to the next level. And so they're probably going to look at it more as a necessity. And they're going to do what they need to do to pay those positions, pay them well, make sure those coaches are there, make sure that they have their athletes or-- excuse me, that they're having their athletes on that developmental program so that they can watch them grow and change as they're in the athletic program.

[00:10:58.69] Yeah, I think it's interesting that D2 and Division 3 comparison. And having been a Division 3 college athlete, a lot of the coaches at the school-- and we didn't have a strength and conditioning coach dedicated for any of the sports at that time. Everybody sort of wore a lot of hats, as you mentioned. And a lot of the coaches and faculty would teach classes.

[00:11:24.25] I know you do that at Winston-Salem State. And I want to ask you about that. Do you feel like there's value in strength and conditioning coaches not just from an income standpoint, but from a teaching and coaching standpoint, to work with the student body as a whole at the college level? What's been your experience there?

[00:11:48.73] Well, I tell my students it's the most important class that they're going to take on campus. And I tell them that because your health is your wealth. And if I can help them be a healthier, more productive person, they're going to have a lot happier and more productive life. So where we are right now, I think a lot of times when it comes to strength training and fitness, a lot of them are getting a lot of different things coming at them from social media and what's right and what's wrong.

[00:12:19.40] So what I try to do is just give them a simple plan that they can follow for the rest of their life, and take care of themselves and the people that they care about the most. So I think the pandemic showed a lot of the things that we have been preaching-- when I say we, for us in the fitness industry have been preaching for years.

[00:12:37.90] We talk about underlying conditions and how your activity level and the things that you eat, how much sleep you get. We've been talking about those things for years. But I think the pandemic just showed everybody the importance. So for me, I think last semester I had a student and you know she was a little hesitant, apprehensive at the beginning.

[00:12:58.21] But one day she came to class and said, coach Harbor, you know what, I'm having so much fun in this class. I never thought I would. But the best thing about it is now I can carry my groceries all the way up the steps without getting tired. So that's a win for me. So that's a small little minor victory.

[00:13:14.38] But I actually focus on how are these things going to help you for the rest of your life? And how can you combat those underlying conditions and those what I call lifestyle diseases. And so for a lot of students in my class, they did not play a sport. They're not very physically active. So being able to take them and help them construct their own program, because that is their final assignment.

[00:13:42.82] I give them a template and they must turn in their own workout program. And that's like their final. That's their final assignment and grade for my class. So I think there's tremendous value in it being able to help someone not be apprehensive when they walk into a gym or not be apprehensive about going outside and get some physical activity.

[00:14:05.37] And I always talk about them doing it with their family and friends. Because with all this knowledge that we have, sometimes we are not getting it to the people that need it the most. The college athletes that we have, they're athletic. Most of the time they're a little bit more athletic than the average student. They tend to have a little bit better work habits as far as their physical training.

[00:14:29.10] So the average student, they're here just kind of going through trying to get their degree. But they're not really focusing on their physical health from a strength training standpoint. So I think it's huge. And I would love to see more college strength coaches figure out a way to work with just the general student population, if only to give them some stuff that they could take and use for the rest of their life.

[00:14:55.02] Yeah. It echoes sort of what I said about the Division 3 level. My coaches were involved in other areas of the exercise minor. We see that at smaller institutions. We probably don't see that at the highest levels where you have a lot of dedicated roles. But I think there is value at certain institutions when we're trying to build traction for these positions to grow, for our departments to grow. And you're embedded as a part of that campus community beyond the four walls of your weight room.

[00:15:35.57] In the students' lives, you're showing that you have more skills beyond just getting the football team ready or the baseball team, or whatever sports that you get to work with in your full time role. But also, teaching life skills.

[00:15:53.27] And it's kind of interesting there is we don't always think about where strength coaches come from in terms of backgrounds. I think we all think, hey, we were college football players and then we eventually weren't good enough to play anymore. And we didn't want to give it up. So we grab a whistle and get our CSCS, and now we're a strength coach.

[00:16:16.91] Well, not every coach has that path. Not every coach was a college athlete. And I actually think it's pretty cool when you see students, and maybe the generation of student today, that's been really engaged with technology and computers from the time they were born, really, gets inspired by some of the sports science elements. And maybe that leads them down a more active physical path for them for their health, but also maybe a professional path that relates to sport.

[00:16:51.96] And so I want to take this down to the high school level. I know you mentioned that you didn't have a physical education credential coming out of your undergrad program. But you, I believe you told me that you eventually went through a provisional license or lateral entry program so that you could be hired as a physical education teacher prior to your position at Winston-Salem State.

[00:17:23.34] And tell us about working at the high school level. This is an area that we're really engaged with at the NSCA right now growing, and want to hear your experience.

[00:17:35.10] So I guess the easiest way for me to put it, my career is in thirds. So like a third of my career has been at I guess really big Division 1 Power Five schools. A third of it has been at smaller, one AA Division 2 schools like where I am now. And then a third of it has actually been in high school setting.

[00:17:55.67] And when we talk, I know the NSCA is big on about where is the biggest area of need. And I would say right now there is a huge need for strength and conditioning coaches at the high school level. Because I really, technically, was not hired as a strength and conditioning coach.

[00:18:13.61] I think some states are doing a little bit better than others. Because they actually have use it as a physical education position, and it's a teaching position. But it's actually for a strength and conditioning coach that works with all of the athletes and then other students throughout the day.

[00:18:30.65] I enjoyed my time at the high school. I actually worked at that high school before. So this is what I tell a lot of young strength coaches. If you look at my resume or my career, I've worked at a lot of different places twice.

[00:18:46.22] So I've worked here at Winston Salem State twice. I worked at UNC Chapel Hill twice. I worked at the high school that I was at before here, Reagan High School, twice. And when you're able to do that, it means you left an impression and you did a good job if someone invites you back. So I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

[00:19:05.54] And I just spoke at a high school strength coaches clinic last weekend. And the one thing I told them is, if you think you're a good coach and you're a college coach or professional coach, go down to your local high school and join a physical education class or workout with a sport team. You will find out really well-- excuse me, you'll find out really quickly how well you explain your program, how well you get kids to follow directions, how well you get them to buy into what you're asking them to do.

[00:19:38.55] Because it is-- I don't want to call it an obstacle-- but there are several unique challenges when you work at the high school level. Here I have a lot of flexibility about when the kids work out, when they run. What time their classes are scheduled is set by the University. So I have a really good handle on that.

[00:19:58.35] We have a system that I can just look in for all the athletes to see when they have classes, so that makes my job really easy to schedule. At the high school level, you're facing a lot of different challenges.

[00:20:10.62] Did that student dress out today? They may not really even have signed up for your class. But there was an opening in their schedule. And someone decided that maybe they should try strength and conditioning or try weight training, or whatever the name of the class is. And so they're walking into it not really knowing what to expect. And like I said, maybe a little bit apprehensive about the entire process. Maybe they're not really physically active. Maybe they've never done any kind of strenuous physical activity.

[00:20:41.97] But it's a great opportunity. Because even though students, part of their final or what we call it, a summative assessment, their summative assessment was, they had to write their own workout program. And whether it was at the high school or was here at Winston Salem State, I always tell the students, don't just use this as an assignment.

[00:21:03.27] Put some thought into it. Think about something that you can realistically do for the rest of your life, making tweaks and changes as you age, as your responsibilities change. But at the high school level, you got a chance to make a really, really big impact on someone's, their present and future health, then overall how happy they are. Because healthy people are usually a little bit happier.

[00:21:29.10] Yeah, so want to ask a little bit about programming differences between what you're doing with your college athletes and the starting point with your high school athletes. I know we have great coaches in the NSCA who focus on technique. And I know that's always first and foremost. But from a physical educator standpoint, how do you structure your training sessions differently at the high school level than you would at the college level?

[00:22:04.45] I would say the biggest way to describe it is things are a lot more watered down and we move at a much slower pace. Even my athletes here, we always talk about, you're only as strong as the weight you can lift correctly. I think it's a lot more important at the high school level because a lot of them, as soon as you talk about weight training, their mind immediately goes to how much can I do one time. And helping them understand that there's more to it.

[00:22:31.18] So I wanted them to change the name of my class to strength conditioning, not weight lifting. Because we did more than weight training. We would actually go, we do some dynamic warm up. We do some running mechanics. We do some plyometrics. We do some changing directions.

[00:22:45.70] Because even though I had a mixture of athletes and students who didn't play sports, I felt like all those things were important just to be a what I call a healthy human and be able to play with your children. Or maybe you wanted to go in the rec league team. And all those things were important.

[00:23:03.74] So in all my classes at the high school level, it ran a lot like a college strength program except for we moved at a lot slower pace and it was a lot less of the, I don't know, I guess the minutia, than I worry about here at the college level. There are some exercises that we did not do. But a lot of it was the same.

[00:23:27.94] It's just we moved at a much slower pace and I felt like we didn't move on to the next level until everyone had kind of mastered the, I guess, the basics. You know, what they call master the mundane. So I was trying to help them master the mundane. And then, again, give them the confidence and information that they need to go out and do it on their own.

[00:23:48.72] And my program director at the central office, she actually said, coach, besides working out, what is a reason that someone should take your class? Well, that's a good question. And my response was lifetime wellness, helping them learn how to be fit, happy, and physically active for the rest of their life. But even the students here, I think one of the best way to do it is to give them options.

[00:24:16.80] And so as they're doing their own program, they have the leeway to program in-- I don't know if exercises that they like is the best word, but maybe exercises and things that they gravitate toward a little bit more than the things that I would generally put into a program.

[00:24:37.09] Yeah, I like that. There was a session at coach's conference a few years ago by Adam Feit talking about autonomy, supportive coaching, and building in choices. I really liked when you were talking about giving the high school strength and conditioning student an assignment to build a program, something that we know that there's a lot of gaps there in knowledge and where they're coming in from.

[00:25:06.18] But it engages them in a project that, like you said, can be a lifelong journey for them to learn and test the waters of strength and conditioning and exercise and fitness and what that means for them. And so that autonomy and building in choices, giving them an opportunity to, when maybe they're unsure about something, pick the lesser of both evils. But over time, I think we know that those evils can become positives.

[00:25:42.15] And they might find some joy and excitement around strength and conditioning and where it takes them in their life. So one thing that you mentioned before was that you were speaking recently at a high school clinic. And I think that's really great, that you take the time outside of your role to go share.

[00:26:05.89] I want to ask you, is that something you recommend to coaches? Not everybody considers themself a public speaker. I mean, 2020 taught us-- we were all on camera a lot more-- that everybody's in a different place with their comfort level in front of a camera or in front of a group of people or just sharing ideas. On some level, coaches are always sharing and presenting in front of their classes, in front of their teams during dynamic warm up. But that's our comfort zone.

[00:26:40.21] But talk about getting out of your comfort zone presenting programming, presenting strength and conditioning topics to other coaches. How do you see the value of that?

[00:26:54.09] I always talk-- when I speak, I talk about failure. And I think too many times in American society, we have a pretty negative connotation about failure. And I think we don't ever look at failure as it pertains to growth. And sometimes if you never leave your comfort zone, you're kind of missing the boat about how you can grow just by putting yourself in a challenging situation.

[00:27:22.04] So for me, whether it's every few months or every few years, I try to do something that's going to take me out of my comfort zone and give me an opportunity to fail. Because I feel it's important for my two children, the athletes that I work with, my colleagues, to see that, yes, the big, bad alpha, whatever you want to call it, strength and conditioning coach is in position to fail.

[00:27:47.44] Because it shows them that it's OK. And sometimes some mental health issues come because some people don't really know how to deal with failure. So for me, even if you aren't really comfortable speaking or delivering a presentation, I think you should do it because of the value that your story has to other people.

[00:28:08.88] When I initially wanted to be a coach, my goal was just to help one person. And over my career, that's been a constant thing to be student, athlete-centered, however you want to put it. But my focus has been to help people.

[00:28:23.11] And one of the great things about being a teacher is I was afforded the opportunity to do professional development for the entire district and in some cases, a national audience. And the NSCA, whether it be the NSCA or any other organization that asks you to speak, I think you should jump at it.

[00:28:48.30] Because there's value in what you do. That's value and what you have to say. You may never know who is listening to your story. And it gives them one little thing that they can take from it. I've been at coaches clinics and people are like, man, I just don't know how I did. And I always tell them, you did a great job. Because if nothing else, it takes some courage to stand up there and be scrutinized by a bunch of people that you may not know and talking about different topics. And maybe you're asked a question that you weren't expecting, you don't really know how to answer it or if you answered it correctly.

[00:29:22.74] But I think that's something we should push. Get out there and tell your story. Let people ask you questions. I always tell people I want to see the world. I want to climb the mountaintop so I can see the world, not so the world can see me. And any of those clinics that I get a chance to speak at, not only am I speaking, but I'm getting a chance to learn from the other people there.

[00:29:45.87] I'm always taking notes. I always try to connect with them later and maybe ask them a few questions about their topic, let them ask me a few questions about mine. But I think we should jump at that opportunity at every chance we get to speak, even if you don't feel like you're a polished public speaker, or maybe you're not sure exactly how to do the presentation or exactly what to cover. I would say jump on out there and do it. Jump out there and do it.

[00:30:15.10] I love that. And I think it that really resonates with the way I think about speaking. And it's something that I remember the first time I spoke at an NSCA event. And like every first time speaker, I'm nervous. And I look at the video now and I'm thinking, oh, gosh. I am terrible.

[00:30:40.61] But you get good feedback. You get things you can improve, and talk about pushing yourself to failure or pushing yourself and challenging yourself, and always trying to reframe that and rework that into the next time I got up there. I felt a lot better about it. And it's something that I think that is a great exercise for coaches to challenge themselves with.

[00:31:08.31] And a lot of times we don't consider presenting in public speaking or sharing our professional knowledge as professional development. A lot of times we think of professional development as sitting in the chair and listening to the person speak. And there's nothing wrong with that.

[00:31:27.41] I love going to conferences and sessions and learning. But I think we also need to think about how we progress so that we can be that person, not in a self centered way, where we want to be the center of attention, where we want to be the voice of this topic. That's not what it's about. It's about authenticating the experience through your lens, through your journey.

[00:31:59.47] If we could talk about blog zero periodization at the high school level and have completely different perspectives, just because we've had different athletes and different experiences with that. So I think it is really great for coaches to want to share more. Reach out to a podcast. Reach out to state regional director for the NSCA if you want to get into some speaking opportunities.

[00:32:30.55] Anyone who, if you aren't sure, I think actually Zoom meetings and Zoom presentations and webinars, I sort of think of it as a minor league system for getting up on the stage and speaking. If you can put together some slides and some ideas in a Zoom webinar, there's a little less pressure there than when you're under the gun in front of that group. And then you can do a smaller event.

[00:32:59.23] And then that builds to a podcast or a national event where the audience gets a little bigger, and your confidence grows there. And I think that's a really positive message for coaches. So I always, I'm a big advocate for public speaking as a progression within the coaching profession.

[00:33:18.92] And I want to ask you about professional development in general. You've touched on some of the things you do to get out there and learn what's happening in the field. But what do you see as valuable today for coaches to engage outside of their weight rooms, outside of their universities? How do we grow as professionals?

[00:33:40.50] I think reaching out to the next generation. People here at the school, they don't like it when I call myself old. So I'll say older. As an older strength coach that's in year 26 of my journey, the new guys and ladies coming through the pipeline, they get me fired up. Because we need new blood in the profession.

[00:34:03.85] And I think we're at a crucial point in time where we got some really good things going on in strength and conditioning. But you've got the tech world. You've got different things where people can work from home. And so I think we really need to be intentional right now about getting these new, young strength coaches in the business, getting them in the field, letting them ask you questions, talking to them about the different career options that they have, letting them know that we're going to be there to support them.

[00:34:36.22] And I've had several people tell me, Coach Harbor, I've met lots of strength coaches. But you're the first person that called me back. I give people my contact. I give people my cell phone. And I'm a busy, busy, busy person. But I always try to make time for a colleague to answer a question, whether they work with me at the school.

[00:34:58.45] Sometimes I think because we're so type-A and driven that we don't want to share with certain colleagues. But my theory is when I talk to people, that we are only adversaries for maybe three hours on a Saturday or a Sunday, or whatever day we play. But the other 364 days of the year, we're colleagues.

[00:35:20.77] So we need to act like colleagues. We need to share. We need to support. If maybe it's a mentor, mentor type role, whatever we need to do to help these young strength coaches. Because they're the future of the profession. And if we want our profession to continue to grow and be on the cutting edge, we've got to help the young coaches. We've got to help them along.

[00:35:43.09] Let them ask us questions. Let them learn from our mistakes. Let them understand that maybe we did something and we thought was going to go really well, but it didn't. How do we fix it? What do we do to fix it? What are the resources there to help you be a better coach?

[00:36:01.36] Because I was talking to somebody the other day about my CSCS test. And when I took it, we got a videotape and the textbook. That was it. Couple of practice tests, but now you have test prep courses and all kind of digital resources. Helping them understand that even though we may not have faced some of the challenges that they face right now, we've got a lot of knowledge, a lot of practical experience that we can share about things that you should do and things that you probably should not do.

[00:36:36.93] But that gets me fired up about talking to young strength coaches or students that think they want to be a strength coach. And maybe they really don't know what we do every day. So I think we've got a great opportunity to capitalize on the momentum that we have building within our profession and with the NSCA to bring these young coaches on board. And now there are so many more jobs available. You can go into sports science.

[00:37:02.22] You can go into-- it's not just being a college strength coach, being a person of training or working in a corporate setting. You have so many options that you can choose. And hopefully you can find your niche in something that you can do for the rest of your life that will make you really happy.

[00:37:19.14] That's awesome. No, that's great advice for everyone listening in. Coach Kerri Harbor, everybody. Really glad you were able to take the time today and share with us.

[00:37:30.54] Yeah. Yep.

[00:37:32.37] So you mention your cell phone number. We won't have you drop that. But what's the best way for our listeners to reach out to you if they have questions or they want to connect?

[00:37:43.86] Probably on Twitter. When I came back to the university, the high school public system that I worked in, the preferred platform was Twitter. And as simple as just @CoachHarbor. You can type my name in-- H-A-R-B-O-R. And then it should pop up where you can search WSSU. We're one of the most sought after universities HBCU's on social media. So usually if you type in WSSU, you're going to get a bunch of different stuff about our athletics.

[00:38:16.39] And a lot of times in athletics, they'll tag me in certain things on Twitter. Yeah, but that's probably the best way to reach out to me. I do a little bit on Instagram, not too much. A lot of the older coaches, we're still on Facebook. So you can reach out to me on Facebook.

[00:38:33.13] But probably the easiest way for me is Twitter, because it offers so many different ways to engage with people and have a conversation or share information and content. That's probably the easiest way for me.

[00:38:47.20] Perfect. We'll add your Twitter handle to the show notes. And thanks again for being with us. Everyone tuning in, that's Coach Kerry Harbor, Winston-Salem State University head strength and conditioning coach. And we continue to try to find great guests for this podcast. For you listening in, we appreciate every single one of you, and always appreciate your comments and feedback on the podcast.

[00:39:14.44] So please keep them coming. Thanks for tuning in. And thank you to Sorinex exercise equipment. We appreciate their support.

[00:39:22.75] Hi. This is 2022 NSCA professional strength and conditioning coach of the year, Dan Dalrymple. Thanks for listening to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, the top resource to hear relevant stories and insights from great coaches like you.

[00:39:35.62] To always get the latest episodes delivered right to your phone or computer, subscribe on iTunes or look up the NSCA Coaching Podcast on your favorite podcast platform. Also, go to to join the NSCA at an upcoming conference or clinic.

[00:39:53.32] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:39:55.40] 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 profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA's the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.

Reporting Errors: To report errors in a podcast episode requiring correction or clarification, email the editor at or write to NSCA, attn: Publications Dept., 1885 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Your letter should be clearly marked as a letter of complaint. Please (a) identify in writing the precise factual errors in the published podcast episode (every false, factual assertion allegedly contained therein), (b) explain with specificity what the true facts are, and (c) include your full name and contact information.

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Eric L. McMahon, MEd, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, RSCC*E

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Eric McMahon is the Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager at the NSCA Headquarters in Colorado Springs. He joined the NSCA Staff in 2020 with ove ...

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Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) Director of AthleticsEtienne Thomashas announced the hiring of Kerry Harbor as its Head Strength and Conditionin ...

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