Strength Performance Network

University of North Carolina: Finding the talent and building them into champions

Given the way that the University of North Carolina football team is playing so far this year it's difficult to argue against the great job he's done in rebuilding a program that hasn't had much to cheer for over the last decade. He's brought in excellent assistant coaches and is convincing quality recruits who never would have looked at UNC in the past to come create glory as a Tarheel. I had the fortunate opportunity to watch the Tarheels play live as an on-field spectator vs. Notre Dame this past Saturday, October 11th as they extended their record to 5-1. I was struck at the improvement in speed and stamina displayed by this year's UNC team. They were beaten soundly in the first half. Nevertheless, they came out in the second half fired up and ready to take control of the game. Their ability to do so is based in more than a simply half-time speech by Butch Davis and Co. They were mentally and physically prepared to battle to the end. Jeff Connors, a "Master Strength & Conditioning Coach", as designated by the Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches association, and the Assistant Athletic Director for Strength & Conditioning, has been involved with UNC for the past 8-years. Currently in charge of the football and women's basketball teams, Connors has a history of developing student-athletes into professional athletes. Perhaps more important for the Strength & Conditioning profession, however, is his ability to mentor future professional strength coaches. (See the list of coaches he's mentored in the above link.)

I also find it interesting that UNC recognizes the need to specialize strength and conditioning training for "Olympic" sport athletes to the extent that they have actually brought in coaches to lead the development of their olympic sport athletes. Greg Gatz, the Director of Strength & Conditioning/Olympic Sports, and his staff of Steve Gisselman, Melissa Glyptis and Eric Biener do an excellent job of training athletes in sports ranging from rowing to track and field to fencing and beyond.

Check out the program. It's one of the nation's gems.

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