The Real Deal

48 years ago Comments Off on The Real Deal

The Sam Houston State Universitys athletic program is far from being overlooked by Southland Conference opponents. SHSU is producing physically and mentally stronger athletes, therefore producing physically and mentally stronger teams.Since 1998 the Bearkats have been under the leadership of Director of Athletics, Bobby Williams. It is no coincidence that since the new coaches, new policies and new goals have been put in place. It is also not coincidence that the athletic department as a whole has been more successful.Head Strength Coach Russell Whitt has been training SHSU athletes since January 1999. Last year he was named Strength Coach of the Year by fellow strength coaches in the Southland Conference and is one of the nominees for the National Strength and Conditioning Associations NSCA Professional of the Year.Since January of 1999 weve broken 20 of the 50 set and standardized football records for power clean, bench press, and squat press, Whitt said.Wide receiver Jonathan Cooper, pound for pound is probably one of the strongest players in the nation, Whitt said. Cooper, who weighs in at 160 pounds bench presses 350 pounds, squats 460 pounds and power cleans 275 pounds.Im willing to bet that Jermaine Henderson, wide receiver, has the highest power clean of any player in the nation at 343 pounds, Whitt said.Teri Coleman, who is a shot-put and discuss thrower, is one of the most powerful athletes that we have, Whitt said. This entire summer Susie Jones, track and field, trained with the football team. She has high expectations of making it to nationals in her outdoor heptathlon.AJ McAvoy, softball, has deep squatted 250 pounds five times this week, which is pretty phenomenal; I would challenge a lot of guys out there to do that weight, Whitt said. Natalie Prewitts Olympic lifting technique is probably better than anyone in our entire program. Precious Madison, track and field, has good Olympic lifting technique in relationship with what she does on the track, Whitt said.Women are easier to train, they are less egotistical and they respond to coaching better. Females are going to make strength gains. Right now the workout times are pretty awkward and were not going to test teams in season, Whitt said, but he plans to implement female athlete strength testing in the future.Coach Whitt trains softball, volleyball, tennis, football, track and field, cross-country and mens and womens basketball teams.The main focus is motivation, improving conditioning, and overall strength, Whitt said. Im in this because I think that strength and conditioning is the most important aspect of athletics; its the difference between winning and losing.Whitt stresses the importance of confidence to mentally prepare for opponents. The most important thing is confidence, if you feel youve outworked your opponent, youve already beaten them mentally in a sense, he said.Most of the teams at SHSU have become increasingly receptive to weight training. According to Whitt, most of the coaches have stressed its importance to the athletes. Most all of the coaches have started to prioritize this and it makes my job a lot easier, he said. The athletes know that they have to come in here and work hard; this isnt a health club.SHSU individual teams are improving as well. The football team ended the season 7-4, the mens basketball team won the conference championship last season, and SHSU won the Mens All Sports championship last year.I think once some teams have tasted success, they see what theyve put in it together and we have consistent workout times, all the details add up to one big matter, Whitt said.Whitt said the mens basketball team has improved significantly in the weight room. Their workout is more challenging than anything Ive ever put any athletes through before and they respond really well, he said.Hes made us work hard and broken everything down on our lifting technique, said junior football player PJ Traylor of Coach Whitt. He always stresses that we need to be stronger than our opponents and more physically fit, and hes done a good job of getting us there.The softball teams overall work ethic has improved, I think theyre starting to translate what they do in the weight room to the field. You hit the ball harder when you lift hard, and you move to the ball quicker when youre conditioned and its been showing by the way theyve been playing. Whitt said.Coach Whitt has helped our team a lot with our work ethic, he pushes us really hard in the weight room, and that makes us work hard on the field as well. I can feel the difference in my performance because Ive been working harder in the weight room. Our team as a whole has gotten a lot stronger; you can tell by how hard we hit the ball, especially compared to last year, said senior softball player Teri Thomas. SHSU is talking about expanding its training facilities as well as hiring a full-time strength and conditioning assistant, which would help add to the success of the athletic strength program as a whole, according to Whitt.Whitt played football and baseball at Abilene Christian University and graduated with a bachelors degree in criminal justice. He came to SHSU from the University of Louisville where he served as assistant strength and conditioning coach. He also served as assistant strength and conditioning coach at College of William and Mary. He interned at the Strength, Speed and Agility Center at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. from May to September of 1997. Whitt served also as a graduate assistant for strength and conditioning at the University of Texas at Austin from 1996 to 1997.If we can get the kids to realize that they have four years of their lives to do something special, and they can prioritize their athletics, they can look back and say we were good instead of looking back and saying, well we got drunk every night then we can be successful. Whitt said. If we can sacrifice some of our social time and dedicate it to athletics we can be successful; I think weve been doing that.