Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger

A helping hand from the strength and conditioning staff

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Darin Thomas, assisted by Anna Kate Depalo and Deon Edwards, work together to keep the strength and conditioning department at Muhlenberg College up and running. The trainers work with the 22 varsity sports on campus to assist each team with specific workout routines which help them prepare and maintain their strength and agility for their seasons.

The department’s main philosophy “is to provide a comprehensive, sport-specific strength and conditioning program that gives our student-athletes the opportunity to achieve their full athletic potential while minimizing the risk of injury.” Although they manage several teams at once, the training staff provides every student-athlete the chance to succeed with a variety of adapted lifting and agility routines based on their personal strength and sport.

Thomas, Depalo and Edwards focus on various areas of emphasis, ranging from power and speed to nutrition to injury prevention, rehab and recovery.

The director of the strength and conditioning department is Darin Thomas. With over ten years of D-I experience, Thomas brought his knowledge of muscular strength and endurance, cardio respiratory endurance, nutrition and stress management to Muhlenberg College. Owning and directing Total Athletic Performance Training in Indiana, Pa. and prior work at several different schools—the Windsor Central School, University of Richmond and the University of Notre Dame—provided Thomas the opportunity to advance his knowledge of his field. The National Strength and Conditioning Association certified Thomas as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist; he is also a certified United State Weightlifting Federation Level 1 Club Coach.

Although they manage several teams at once, the training staff provides every student-athlete the chance to succeed

Anna Kate Depalo assists Thomas, while specifically conditioning the women’s lacrosse, soccer, volleyball and softball teams and is also the women’s assistant soccer coach. Most don’t know her by Anna Kate, since she strictly goes by ‘Tattie’ ever since she’s been able to talk. After she graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2014, where she played soccer and majored in exercise science, she joined the Muhlenberg community. The following fall was her first as the women’s assistant soccer coach.  For Depalo, Muhlenberg created an opportunity for her to be an assistant trainer in addition to pursuing a coaching career.

Last year Deon Edwards became the third member of the Muhlenberg athletic strength and conditioning staff. Edwards filled a vacancy left by former trainer Nick Aloi, who notably once performed a Strength & Conditioning internship in the National Football League with the Detroit Lions and the United States Navy Academy.

Edwards started at Muhlenberg in the 2017 spring semester. He started out at Charleston Southern University, where he played football. That is where Edwards’s interest peaked in the strength and conditioning field. After three years, he transferred to Coastal Carolina University where he graduated with a degree in exercise and sports science.

After interning in the 2016 fall semester at Costal Carolina, he made his way to Pennsylvania to continue his training career in strength and conditioning. In his time in Allentown, he has been responsible for the conditioning of the baseball, wresting, field hockey and track teams. He is currently in the process of becoming a certified Strength and Conditioning specialist.

The three strength and conditioning staff collaborate on specialized training regimens for all 22-varsity sports teams.

“For every sport, I’ll do the basic core lifts like squat and bench, but add sport specific assisted lifts,” said Depalo. “For example, with women’s lacrosse, I try to do chopping motions and single leg things but that differs from, say, softball, which would be more power moves.”

Tattie also elaborated on how there are very different workouts when athletes are in or out of season.

“Out of season we typically do a lot of strength building and muscle building. While in season it’s a lot more maintenance and circuit training.”

Being an athlete myself, I have experienced these trainers’ expertise first-hand. Not only are they very busy with a lot of work behind the scenes, but there is no doubt that their efforts in the Life Sports Center translate into student-athletes’ success on the field. They devote countless hours prepping for every teams’ workout, while tending to individuals needs in order to give them the most beneficial workout they can receive.

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