By Jackson Rhudy, CSCS, USAW-ASPC
As a Master’s student in ETSU’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science I had the option to complete an internship in the field of strength and conditioning/sport science in order to graduate. Beginning in June I chose to take an internship with Science Hill High School Football,and am fortunate to still be working with them this Fall. Science Hill, a class 6A school in Johnson City, TN, did not currently have a full-time strength and conditioning coach. This was a unique opportunitybecaseu I was in charge of all strength and conditioning activities for a football team unlike many internships in the collegiate, professional, or private setting which entail working under the close supervision of an senior strength and conditioning coach with little to no responsibility. Though I do work under Athletic Director, Keith Turner, and head football coach, Stacy Carter, they have allowed me to take control of this aspect of football preparation and make executive decisions.
I am lucky to have followed other graduates and coaches that have been influenced by our sport science program. They have accomplished the hard part and paved the way for me to successfully continue in the program. On my first day it was such a relief to see a large percentage of the team actually squatting below parallel! However, there were still many imperfections and opportunities for me to practice coaching hands-on.
A typical day in summer lifting consisted of three back-to-back hour-long sessions with up to 50 athletes per session. There were other coaches there to help me monitor safety, but most of the coaching was up to me. During the leadership experience there was an energetic atmosphere that necessitated high-intensity coaching, which was the most valuable part of the internship. Frequent schedule changes along with the high density of athletes per session forced me to become adaptable and make adjustments on the fly, bur what I have learned at ETSU has helped me to make those adaptations without sacrificing the intent of each session. Despite the large volume of athletes, the new facility,equipped with 15 half racks, allowed us to execute each sessionthrough efficiently. Most of the athletes were willing to put in the work to get stronger, but others did not see strength training as essential. I tried to use competition between athletes as a short-term motivation while education was my long-term approach. I tried to explain reasons behind the programming in hopes to get them intrinsically motivated.
When outside the weightroom I made sure to attend all football practices, home and away games, and my activities on the field wererunning dynamic warm-ups, leading football-specific drills, and learning as much as I could about coaching football. Being active at practices and games seemed to have built more respect and trust between the athletes and myself. When my focus during lifting sessions is on coaching technique, safety, and adherence, it’s important to build those relationships outside of the weightroom. Science Hill has been a great environment for self-improvement,working alongside coaches that are open-minded, respectful, and that trust me with our team.